The Living Wage Foundation (LWF) is calling on its members to raise hourly wages by 40p within the next six months.

Its Real Living Wage has gone up to £9.90 across the country, and to £11.05 in London.

This is an hourly pay rate that is set independently and updated annually. It is separate to the UK government’s National Living Wage, which is currently at £8.91. The government has announced this will go up to £9.50 next April.

Commenting on the figures, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Frances O’Grady said: “These new figures from the Living Wage Foundation show that low pay is endemic in modern Britain. Millions are in jobs that don’t pay the bills.”

9,000 UK businesses subscribe to the Living Wage Foundation

The Living Wage Foundation is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Comic Relief and People’s Health Trust, among others. It is made up of individuals from various groups who campaign for employees to get paid an amount they say represent real life costs.

The pay rises are voluntary and only 9,000 UK businesses subscribe to the Foundation’s recommendations.

The LWF says this number is rising; since the start of the pandemic, more than 3,000 employers have subscribed to its suggested pay rates. This includes construction firms Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon Homes, joining ranks with Everton Football Club, Lush and Burberry. 

Director of the Living Wage Foundation, Kate Chapman said: “For the past 20 years the Living Wage movement has shaped the debate on low pay, showing what is possible when responsible employers step up and provide a wage that delivers dignity. Despite this, there are still millions trapped in working poverty, struggling to keep their heads above water – and these are people working in jobs that kept society going during the pandemic like social care workers and cleaners.”

The Foundation describes itself as an organisation that is “at the heart of the independent movement of businesses and people that campaign for the idea that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.

Latest Research on Wages

According to the LWF, 300,000 employees have had a pay rise as a result of their work in the past, but its latest research found 4.8 million employees are paid below the real Living Wage. This amounts to one in six workers.

The report also found that Northern Ireland had the highest proportion of jobs paying below the Living Wage (21.3% or 236,000). The lowest was in the South East (12.8% or 533,000). 

The Foundation says people from ethnic minorities groups are more likely to be low paid. It found 19.4% of these workers earning below the Living Wage, compared to 16.3% of white workers.  

O’ Grady, who released a scathing statement from the TUC, called on the government to act. She says Britain is in the middle of a cost-of-living crunch: “The Budget revealed we face another half decade of wage stagnation. Ministers must start by increasing the minimum wage to £10 immediately, banning zero hours contracts and giving trade unions greater access to workplaces to negotiate improved pay and conditions.”