Increases in the voluntary “real living wage” have been brought forward, giving a pay boost to almost 400,000 workers. The hourly rates are rising by £1 to £10.90 across the UK and by 90p to £11.95 in London.
The rates are higher than the statutory £9.50 an hour for adults, and are paid by more than 11,000 employers accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. The announcement of the new rates was brought forward in recognition of the sharp increase in living costs over the past year, said the foundation.
The number of real living wage employers has more than doubled in the past two years, with major new names including the Royal Albert Hall, Aston University, and the ExCel Centre. They join half of the FTSE 100 companies, including Aviva, Everton FC, Ikea, Burberry and Lush as well as thousands of small businesses.
There are now also 39 “living hours” employers, including Aviva and West Bromwich Building Society, going beyond the real living wage to provide a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours work a week and a month’s notice of shift patterns.
Katherine Chapman, Living Wage Foundation director, said: “With living costs rising so rapidly, millions are facing an awful ‘heat or eat’ choice this winter – that’s why a real living wage is more vital than ever. Today’s new rates will provide hundreds of thousands of workers and their families with greater security and stability during these incredibly difficult times.
“We are facing unprecedented challenges with the cost-of-living crisis, but businesses continue to step up and support workers by signing up to the Living Wage in record numbers. We know that the Living Wage is good for employers as well as workers, that’s why the real living wage must continue to be at the heart of solutions to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.”
Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said: “As we reflect during a very sad and troubled period, we can take heart from this news which will make a vital difference to the lives of many thousands of workers across our country. With living costs rising and many families struggling, a wage that meets everyday needs is more essential than ever. These new rates will see thousands of employers provide hundreds of thousands of workers with a wage that will help support them through the difficult times ahead.
“Decent pay that covers living costs should be a foundational principle for business and, as we approach a difficult winter, I hope to see more employers adopt a living wage.” The new rates are usually announced in November.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Low-paid workers are crying out for help. The Government must follow the foundation’s lead and bring forward an increase to the national minimum wage without delay.
Waiting until April would be foolish. Ensuring everyone is paid at least £15 an hour would be a lifeline for millions barely coping with eyewatering household costs. Rather than boosting bankers’ bonuses, the Government should concentrate on those feeling genuine financial pain.”
GMB official Rachel Harrison said: “The fact tens of thousands of NHS workers, school staff, local government workers and care staff aren’t even paid a living wage should be a badge of national shame. What kind of society do we want to live in?
"Do we want to make sure those who look after us can feed their children and keep a roof over their head? Or do we want to let already wealthy bankers enjoy uncontrolled bonuses in some vague bid to ‘boost the city’?”