More "real" living wage employers in Buckinghamshire as costs soar

More Buckinghamshire employers have signed up to the voluntary living wage scheme over the past year, new figures show.
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The Living Wage Foundation encourages employers to sign up to pay a "real" living wage, which is higher than the minimum wage and pegged to living costs.

The rate, which is calculated by a group of economists and applies to employees aged 18 and over, currently stands at £9.90 per hour across the UK and £11.05 in London, to reflect higher prices in the capital.

For comparison, the Government's living wage stands at £9.50 per hour for people aged 23 and over, and £9.18 for over 21s.

money stock image, photo from PA Images/Dominic Lipinskimoney stock image, photo from PA Images/Dominic Lipinski
money stock image, photo from PA Images/Dominic Lipinski

Figures shared with RADAR show there were 42 accredited real living wage employers in Buckinghamshire as of the start of July – up from 40 at the same point last year and 15 five years ago.

The soaring cost of fuel, energy and food has put wages under the spotlight.

Workers in some industries have gone on strike this summer, asking for a better deal from their employers.

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said the cost-of-living crisis has made increasing wages for the low-paid "more important than ever".

She said paying the living wage is not only "the right thing to do for struggling workers and families, but it’s also good for businesses, with employers benefitting from greater staff morale and productivity, and reduced staff absenteeism and turnover".

The foundation announced in May that 10,000 employers had signed up to the scheme – covering nearly 350,000 workers, or around 1 in 13 employees in the UK.

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As of 1 July, there were 10,765 organisations paying the real living wage across the UK, up from 8,107 in 2021 and 3,383 in 2017.

Researchers at Cardiff University estimate this has provided an extra £1.8bn to low-paid staff.

Across the South East, there are 892 real living wage employers, an increase from 285 in 2017.

Despite this, many UK workers are still on low pay.

The Office for National Statistics estimated that in April 2021 nearly 300,000 employees were paid below the Government's living or minimum wage, excluding those furloughed at the time, with service workers particularly likely to suffer low pay.

The latest estimates from the Bank of England suggest inflation could hit 13% in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Trades Union Congress, a federation of workers' groups, said recently that this would result in an unprecedented drop in pay in real terms, with wages expected to rise by 5.3% over the same period.

A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the Government is "determined to make work pay".

"We know the pressures people are facing with rising costs, which is why we have continually taken action to help households by phasing in £37 billion worth of support.

“In the long-term, we are committed to building a high skilled, high wage economy that delivers on our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to work.”