Renewed calls for Real Living Wage

coronavirus

A Living Wage Foundation study of 2,128 staff earning below the voluntary rate found two-thirds had seen their pay plunge over the past year because of the crisis

One in four workers paid less than the Real Living Wage has had to skip meals during the coronavirus pandemic, research reveals today.

A Living Wage Foundation study of 2,128 staff earning below the voluntary rate found two-thirds had seen their pay plunge over the past year because of the crisis.

A fifth could not afford to heat their homes and 20% fell behind on their rent or mortgage.

Some 29% were unable to pay household bills and 27% regularly skipped meals for financial reasons.

Forty-six per cent said low-pay negatively affects their anxiety levels, 34% said it had negative impacts on relationships with close friends and family, and 31% of parents said it harms relationships with their children.

Living Wage Foundation director Laura Gardiner said: We’ve long known that low-pay leads to financial insecurity, but our analysis shows the much broader and more pernicious effects of low wages on workers and their families.

The fact that many low earners – including essential workers who’ve kept the economy going through the pandemic – are forced to skip meals or forego heating their homes is unacceptable. As the vaccine is rolled out and we inch back to some sense of normality, it’s clear business as usual isn’t an option, she said.

To recover and rebuild, and to truly level up living standards throughout the UK, we will need to see a greater focus on lifting people onto a Real Living Wage that covers the cost of living, Gardiner said.

The Real Living Wage is £9.50 an hour and £10.85 in London.

It is paid by more than 7,000 employers accredited with the Foundation.

In contrast, the current National Living Wage – the legal minimum – is just £8.72 an hour, falling to £8.20 for those aged between 21 and 24, and just £6.45 for those aged 18 to 20.

The study found overwhelming backing for lifting pay to the Real Living Wage rate.

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