Why I'm backing Living Wage Week
Today marks the beginning of the #LivingWageWeek which sets out to highlight the main reasons why we need better wages across the country. The Labour party aims to have living wage, go up to £10 per hour by 2020 as stated by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell in 2017.
The Government has combined national living wage and the national minimum wage, which defeats the purpose of the initial distinction. Jeremy Corbyn argues that; “the Government’s rebranding of the minimum wage to the national living wage hasn’t dealt with the real problems of low pay and rising costs of living”.
According to Unison, the Living Wage is an estimate of the minimum hourly rate of pay needed for a worker to cover the costs that most people would regard as necessary for a basic standard of living. Every November, the Living Wage Foundation announces two new Living Wage rates - one for London and one for the rest of the UK. The UK rate is currently set at £8.75 an hour and the London rate is set at £10.20 an hour. Unlike the legally enforceable National Minimum Wage, whether to pay the Living Wage is a voluntary decision for an employer.
With the continuation of the Universal Credit rollout, we have seen a rise of workers having to claim, as they do not earn enough to make ends meet. In addition to this, under Universal Credit, families are hit harder through the phasing out of working tax credit, leaving households significantly worse off each week. IPPR think-tank and Child Poverty Action Group’s research shows “lone parent families will be on average £2,380 a year worse off, while families with two children lose £1,100 on average and those with three youngsters lose £2,540”. The reduction of money under Universal Credit has hit people with disabilities hard too, with some left as much as £300 worse off each month. We have seen the effects of this across the Stroud constituency.
When Universal Credit is fully rolled out, around 7 million families will receive it, over half of those households will be in work, according to Citizens’ Advice.
In addition to the clear benefits for workers, there are benefits for employers too. Unison states the employers could expect improvements in the following areas:
· Improved recruitment and retention
· Improved productivity and reduced sickness absence
· Enhanced reputation among local community and consumers
· Enhanced competitiveness
To learn more about living wage or if you are an employer interested in living wage please go to https://www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-week.