Living wage gives £1.53 billion to low-paid staff

More than £1.53 billion has been awarded to 260,000-plus low-paid workers through the campaign for a real living wage over the past 20 years, according to new research.

The Living Wage Foundation and Cardiff Business School carried out the study, which also found that almost three-quarters of businesses paying the real living wage said that accrediting with the foundation had improved their reputation as an employer.

Findings also revealed that the number of living wage employers has continued to grow during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, with around 2,600 more organisations committing to pay the rate since 23 March last year, the date that the first lockdown began.

The campaign, which was created in 2001, is an independently calculated wage rate based on meeting people’s everyday needs. It is currently £9.50 an hour outside of London and £10.85 within the capital.

Graham Griffiths, director of the Living Wage Foundation, explained that over the past 20 years, hundreds of thousands of people’s lives have been changed by the movement. He believes that it has allowed people to spend more time with their families, save for the future, and enjoy the stability and security necessary to thrive.

“We know too that the living wage has transformed employers across the country, and we’ve been delighted to see businesses continue to accredit at an astonishing rate during the pandemic. As we look to recover from this crisis, it’s clear that that must rebuild on the solid foundations that the real living wage provides,” he said.

Edmund Heery, Professor Emeritus, Cardiff Business School, added that the campaign has produced mutual gains for employees and employers, and has transferred millions of pounds to low-paid workers, with part-time staff and those on outsourcing contracts benefitting the most.

“But the living wage has also benefited many employing organisations, enhancing reputation, improving recruitment and retention and, for some, helping to win contracts or funding. The evidence shows emphatically that both parties can gain from higher employment standards,” he said.