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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Report reveals 5 of London Boroughs do not pay a ‘real living wage’

The top five areas for low-paid jobs are all in London, a new report has found.

The latest study by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) has found that five London boroughs are the country’s top-ranking local authority areas in terms of the proportion of jobs which do not pay a ‘real living wage’.

The LWF says that its real living wage rates “are the only UK wage rate to be independently calculated on the cost of living”. Every year it publishes a new rate for workers outside London and a higher rate inside London, to reflect the capital’s heavier cost of living.

In a new report, the LWF revealed that the council area with the highest number of workers not paid a ‘real living wage’ was Haringey, where almost a third (32.7 per cent) were earning less than one. It was followed by Brent (29.5 per cent), Waltham Forest (28.8 per cent), Bexley (28.5 per cent) and Redbridge (28.2 per cent).

Making up the rest of the top ten were, in order: Hyndburn in Lancashire, Harrow in London, Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, East Lindsey in Lincolnshire, and Thanet in Kent.

The real living wage is currently set at £13.15 per hour in London, and £12 outside London, with the LWF campaigning for employers to voluntarily pay their staff these rates as a minimum.

The government’s legally-binding minimum wage, known as the ‘national living wage’, for people aged 23 and up, is £10.42 per hour across the country. From April, the government is increasing it to £11.44 and reducing the age of eligibility to 21. Those not old enough for the national living wage receive a lower rate which the Government calls the ‘national minimum wage’.

The LWF’s report found that across the country, 12.9 per cent of employee jobs (3.7 million jobs) were paid below the real living wage in April 2023 – a small increase from 12.3 per cent (3.5 million jobs) in April 2022. Despite that increase, this remains relatively low by historical standards, the report noted.

Looking at the proportion of workers receiving the real living wage in each region, London was slightly worse than the national average, with 13.3 per cent of employees being paid less than the LWF’s rate.

The capital still performed better however than the North East (15.9 per cent), the East Midlands (15.7 per cent), Northern Ireland (15.6 per cent), Yorkshire and the Humber (14.4 per cent), the West Midlands (14.2 per cent) and the North West (13.5 per cent).

Revd. Dr Simon Woodman Image: Kings College London

The best performing regions were the South East and Scotland, both with only 10.1 per cent of workers not receiving the real living wage.

The report was produced as part of the Making London a Living Wage City project, led by the LWF in collaboration with Citizens UK.

The Revd Dr Simon Woodman, of Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church and a Citizens UK leader, said of the findings: “All of us who live in London will know first-hand how the cost of living has risen in recent times, but those who also live with low pay are bearing the personal cost far more than others.

“It is a matter of shame that London, one of the world’s greatest cities, has the top five local authorities in the country with the highest proportion of low paid jobs: nearly a third of people in these areas are living on the edge of poverty.

“It’s time to change this, and employers can act decisively by leading the way in becoming accredited as Living Wage employers, as we work together towards making London a Living Wage City and banish the scourge of low pay to the pages of history.”

City hall London Image: London Government Authority

A spokeswoman for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It is vital that everybody is paid a decent wage – especially in the face of a cost of living crisis, increased rents and mortgages and rising energy bills, many of which been exacerbated by national Government decisions – which is why the mayor has always championed the London Living Wage.

“Last year, Sadiq announced a 10 per cent increase in the London Living Wage, with more than 3,600 London employers now recognising the importance and benefits of paying hard working Londoners a fair wage – a figure that has risen six-fold since 2016.

“The London Living Wage is one of the most effective tools we have in stemming the rising tide of economic inequality and in-work poverty and it is vital that Government increase support, especially for small and micro businesses.

“This research highlights that, despite all our progress, there is still more to do to ensure that all Londoners can benefit from our city’s prosperity. The mayor calls on all employers to make that commitment, as we work together to build a better and fairer London for everyone.”

A spokesman at the Department for Business and Trade said: “Millions of low-paid workers across the country will benefit from the largest pay rise to the National Minimum Wage this April.

“We’re also boosting the National Living Wage to now include 21 and 22 year olds and increasing it to £11.44 an hour, helping to end hourly low pay.”

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