Boost for low wages as living wage rises today

Postponed living wage increase

Living Wages in Scotland will provide a vital cost of living increase for more than 57,000 people as the rate drops from £9.90 to £10.90 today.

This year, the announcement of the new rate was brought forward to November, given the sharp increase in the cost of living.

The real living wage remains the only independently calculated rate on what people need to live.

Since 2011, the campaign has poured £365million into the pockets of working people in Scotland.

Unlike the UK government’s minimum wage (“National Living Wage” for those over 23 – £9.50), the Real Living Wage is the only wage rate calculated independently based on the cost of living.

A full-time worker earning the new amount would earn nearly £3,000 (£2,730) a year more than a worker earning the current government minimum (NLW), and nearly £2,000 (£1,950) more than his current salary.

A full-time worker aged 21 or 22 would earn £3,354 more a year on actual living wage than if they were on the UK government’s minimum for that age.

Gail Irvine, Director of Living Wage Scotland, said: “Ensuring staff are paid at least the true living wage is the most important thing employers can do to help their employees cope with the rising cost of life.

“Despite the economic challenges, more and more employers are joining our movement because they recognize that paying a salary that covers daily needs is a necessary and vital investment in their workforce.

“Not only is it the right thing to do, but companies that pay true living wages reap the benefits in terms of better recruitment and retention, fewer sick days and a more motivated workforce. “

Over the past two years, the living wage movement has continued to grow, with the number of living wage employers in Scotland increasing by 70%.

Major Living Wage employers in Scotland include SSE, abrdn, Aegon, Innes & Gunn and Morrison Construction, along with thousands of SMEs.

Scotland has the lowest rate of jobs paid below living wage of the nations – 14.4% of jobs are paid below living wage compared to 17.9% in Wales and 17.1% in England . Despite this, around 333,000 workers in Scotland are still being paid less than the actual living wage. Research published last week by the Living Wage Foundation found that 78% of low-paid workers – 3.7 million workers across the UK – say this is the worst financial time they have ever experienced. More than half (56 per cent, or 2.7 million UK workers) say they have turned to food banks in the last twelve months, while more than a quarter say they have no money left at the end of the working week after paying for essentials.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “Paying the living wage has always been about doing the right thing. But with prices rising more than ever, it has never been more important for employers to commit to at least the real living wage to help break the grip of poverty in Scotland.

“Today, as the living wage rate rises, we salute the leadership of over 2,800 living wage employers in Scotland and call on many more to pay living wage and become accredited. We all need sufficient income to cover our needs and protect us from poverty, and it is normal for employers to play their part by paying a salary that covers the cost of living.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Employment, said: “The increase in the real hourly living wage rate to £10.90 announced today by the Living Wage Foundation will be welcomed by those on the lowest incomes and help with the rising cost of living.

“I am proud that Scotland is leading the way in real living wage payments and that the number of accredited employers continues to grow.

“These are difficult times for businesses as well as workers and I understand that the new rate will be difficult for some businesses already dealing with the effects of Brexit, Covid and the current rise in energy prices. The Scottish Government is committed to working with the business community to identify new measures to help deal with rising costs and economic disruption.

“I urge more employers to join the Real Living Wage movement to help us build a nation of fair labor.”

Michael A. Bynum