29 per cent of female workers earn less than living wage

Mike KellyAlmost a third (29%) of female workers earn less than the living wage, compared to 18% of males, according to research by KPMG.

The research report, which was conducted by Markit using its UK Household Finance Index survey of 1,500 respondents and drawing on the Office for National Statistics’ Annual survey of hours and earnings, also found that 23% of all employees now earn less than the living wage, compared to 22% in 2014.

The research also found:

  • Almost three-quarters (72%) of workers aged between 18-21 earn less than the living wage.
  • 17% of employees between the ages of 30 and 39 earn less than the living wage.
  • 30% of workers earning above the living wage anticipate an improvement in their household finances over the next year.

Mike Kelly (pictured), head of living wage at KPMG, said: “The past year has seen some notable achievements, with 2,000 employers, including more than a quarter of the FTSE 100, now accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. Awareness of the issue has also increased, with more than three out of four of the general public in the know about what the living wage is.

“With the cost of living still high the squeeze on household finances remains acute, meaning that the reality for many is that they are forced to live hand to mouth. The figures released today show that there is still more to be done if we are to eradicate in-work poverty.

“For some time it was easy for businesses to hide behind the argument that increased wages hit their bottom line, but there is ample evidence to suggest the opposite, in the shape of higher retention and higher productivity. It may not be possible for every business, but it is certainly not impossible to explore the feasibility of paying the living wage.”

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The research was released to highlight Living Wage Week (1-7 November 2015). The living wage is a voluntary rate recommended by the Living Wage Foundation. As of today (2 November 2015), the living wage rate increased from £7.85 an hour to £8.25 and the London living wage rate rose from £9.15 to £9.40 an hour.

The living wage is distinct from the statutory national living wage announced by Chancellor George Osborne in July and due to come into effect in April 2016.