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Government urged to enforce the living wage


The government has been urged by the Living Wage Commission to set a target of drastically cutting the number of workers earning less than the ‘living wage’.

They said that the government should aim to cut the number of low paid workers by one million people, as early as 2020.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who is the chairman of the commission, also recommended that all government workers should be paid a “living wage”. He pointed out that the government is currently the biggest employer of low paid workers in the UK, and they should look to rectify this.

The living wage, as defined by the Living Wage commission is “an hourly rate of income calculated according to a basic cost of living in the UK as the minimum amount of money needed to enjoy a basic, but socially acceptable standard of living”.

This ‘living wage’ is currently calculated at £7.65 an hour by the commission, increasing to £8.80 an hour in London.

However, the commission say that more work needs to be done, as the current national minimum wage only stands at just £6.31 an hour.

Archbishop Sentanu said “for the first time, the majority of people in poverty in the UK are now in working households,” something that he described as “a national scandal”.

Cost pressures

Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy and external affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce, said that “some businesses simply cannot afford to pay a minimum wage just yet”, mainly because the UK economy is still in recovery.

Others were also critical of recommendations to cut the number of people living below the ‘living wage.

Mike Cherry, policy chairman of the Federation of Small Business, spoke of the cost pressures of a living wage, stating that some small businesses simply cannot afford it.

He said “at least half our members pay at or above the living wage”, whilst others can only afford to pay at or just above the current national minimum wage.

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