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Employers are signing up to pay the 'real living wage' at a record rate

The Living Wage Foundation reports it has reached the milestone of 10,000 living wage employers.

Brits are facing unaffordable fuel bills, expensive groceries and stagnant pay. Image: Unsplash / Rumman Amin

UK employers are responding to the cost of living crisis by signing up to pay the “real living wage” at rates never before seen.

The Living Wage Foundation reports it has reached the milestone of 10,000 living wage employers, with the Royal Albert Hall and The Fed among the major companies who have been accredited in the last three months.

Living wage employers commit to paying all staff – including contracted workers – the independently calculated rate, currently set at £9.90 in most of the UK, and £11.05 in London.

The real living wage is calculated every year, taking into consideration the cost of food, bills and rent, and almost half of the employers who have signed up have done so since March 2020.

Household names including Aviva, National Express, Ikea, Burberry, and Liverpool and Everton football clubs are among small, medium and large businesses who have signed up.

Now almost 350,000 people earn a real living wage in the UK – and one in 13 UK workers work for an employer who pays the real living wage or higher.

Katherine Chapman, Living Wage Foundation director, said: “Reaching 10,000 Living Wage Employers is an historic milestone for the living wage movement. Since the campaign’s beginnings 20 years ago, living wage accreditation has become a benchmark of responsible business in the UK, shaping the debate on low pay and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the country with a wage that delivers dignity.

“As inflation hits new highs, the living wage movement is more vital than ever. We are facing the worst income squeeze on record and no one will feel it more sharply than the nearly five million people in low paid and insecure jobs, already struggling on tight budgets. It’s crucial that employers who can afford it protect those who will be most affected by price rises by paying a wage based on the cost of living.” 

During the Queen’s Speech, the measures introduced offered no further help for people trying to manage spiralling prices and rising inflation.

But new research from Cardiff Business School reports the living wage movement has contributed more than £1.8billion in extra wages for low paid workers since March 2020.

The Fed CEO Mark Cunningham said: “For us as a charity it’s a landmark moment. We believe, certainly from working over the last two years through a pandemic, that the people who work in social care are heroes – all the time. It’s a difficult job. It’s an amazing job. And we wanted to make sure that we were alongside other employers in Greater Manchester in paying the real living wage.”

Paul Connolly is a porter and driver who earns the real living wage at The Fed.

He said: “Earning more per year has made me feel more comfortable with the bills. Petrol and food has gone sky high! So I would definitely say it’s helped ease some financial worries.”

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