by Patrick Kavanagh. Patrick is a sixth form student from London, who’s about to start a politics course at university and is currently doing work experience with our Government Relations team.
The Living Wage is a figure set by The Living Wage Foundation to ensure wages are high enough for workers to meet a basic standard of living. Currently, the minimum wage stands at just £6.31 per hour, making the living wage a staggering 20% higher across the UK and 36% higher in the capital.
With such a large gap between the minimum wage and the living wage, parents in particular are fighting an uphill struggle to make ends meet.
Living Wage Week will see a range of activities promoting the campaign, and kicked off today with London Mayor, Boris Johnson announcing the new rate of £8.80 for London. The new national outside London rate is £7.65.
The living wage is independently set every year to take into account changes in the cost of living.
Reducing child poverty
Widespread introduction of the Living Wage could be a crucial part of reducing the numbers of children living in poverty in the UK – some 3.5 million.
If the current trend continues, the number of children living in poverty will increase from 3.5 million in 2011/12 to 4.7 million in 2020/21 according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
What’s more, the negative impact that poverty has on young children’s life-chances is indisputable. From a very early age, differences appear in health, education and developmental outcomes.
In collaboration with the Living Wage Foundation, Save the Children is committed to campaigning for a decent wage for employees.
Work needs to pay
The sad truth is that currently, work on the minimum wage is not necessarily a route out of poverty: 66% of children living in poverty are in working households and 1.96 million children live in households where those working earn below the Living Wage.
Today, Save the Children has also published new research showing that paying the Living Wage will have an even greater impact under Universal Credit, the government’s new scheme for working-age benefit and tax credit claimants.
The Living Wage Foundation itself was founded in 2001 by a group of parents in east London who were frustrated that working two minimum wage jobs, left no time for family and still wasn’t enough to get by.
Living Wage works
All three main political parties support the idea of the living wage, and the economic benefits add weight to the argument. 80% of employers believe the Living Wage has enhanced the quality of work of their staff, whilst absenteeism has fallen by 25%, according to The Living Wage Foundation. On top of this, turnover of contractors has fallen from 4% to 1%.
It therefore seems undeniable that the Living Wage is a good idea, both for UK businesses, as well as families struggling to survive.