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Latest News
17 Nov 2014

Millions Of UK Workers Earning Below Living Wage

As part of living wage week, new research has revealed that more than a fifth (22%) of UK workers are not earning the amount recommended to provide a decent standard of living, The Guardian reports.

Consultancy firm KPMG´s report shows that the number of people earning below the living wage has jumped 1% from last year – which equals a further 147,000 people, and 5.28 million in total.

The findings show that the demographics most likely to be paid less are women, younger workers and part-time workers. One in four women were earning below the living wage, compared to 16% of men; whilst 43% of part-time workers earned below the target, against 13% of full-time staff.

What´s more, 72% of those aged 18-21 were earning below the living wage - compared to just 15% of 30-39 year olds.

The sectors most likely to be affected were bar staff (90%), closely followed by waiting staff (85%), kitchen assistants (80%) and retail workers (70%).

Mike Kelly, chair of the Living Wage Foundation, explained that with the high cost of living “the squeeze on household finances remains acute, meaning that the reality for many is that they are forced to live hand to mouth.”

The 2013 living wage rate stood at £7.65 per hour and £8.80 in London; but these have just risen to £7.85 per hour outside of London, and £9.15 in the capital. Despite the increase, some experts warn that employers could struggle to pay the new amounts, and the focus should instead be on keeping people in work.

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors (IoD) told the BBC:

“For businesses operating in a particularly competitive environment, they face a difficult dilemma - employing five people on the minimum wage, or just four on the living wage […] and we need to avoid stigmatising those employers who cannot afford the living wage.”

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