The Living Wage Funders Scheme

03 May 2019

In 2015, the Living Wage Funders scheme was codeveloped by the Trust and the Living Wage Foundation to help end low pay in the voluntary and community sector. 

In order to become a Living Wage Funder, organisations commit to:

  • Becoming a Living Wage Employer
  • Funding grant-funded posts at the Living Wage rate
  • Supporting grant-funded charities to become accredited Living Wage employers

The scheme was developed with support from the Trust, in collaboration with other funders including Trust for London, Barrow Cadbury Trust and Comic Relief

There are now 56 Living Wage Funders including local authorities such as the London Boroughs of Islington and Brent. Between them, they contribute more than £1.8 billion in  real Living Wage grant funding.

"We were already a Living Wage Employer, so it was an easy decision to support the Living Wage Funders scheme. We work with thousands of charities across Great Britain and are uniquely placed to support the take up of the Living Wage in the voluntary and community sector. We want to see the Living Wage become the norm, and believe that where organisations can pay, they should." John Hume, Chief Executive - People's Health Trust.

John, Hume, Chief Executive of People's Health Trust is Chair of the Steering Committee of the Living Wage Funders and sits on the Living Wage Foundation Advisory Council.

Find out more about becoming a Living Wage Funder.


Low pay in the charity sector

In November 2017, a report - Low Pay in the Charity Sector - by the Living Wage Foundation found that 30% of females in the charity sector earn less than the Living Wage, compared to 21% of males. Overall, it found that more than a quarter of charity workers are not paid enough to live on. 

By age group, young people aged between 18 and 21 year olds are the most affected, with 69% earning below the real Living Wage. 

Picture: Living Wage Foundation

People from BAMER backgrounds are particularly affected by low pay with Black/African/Caribbean/Black British respondents (30%)  and 'Other Asian Background' survey repsondents (62%) reporting earning belwo the real Living Wage. Part-time workers are also more likely to be affected by low pay (42%) compared to just under a fifth (19%) of full-time workers in the charity sector. 

Picture: Living Wage Foundation

The Living Wage Funders have been working with all parts of the charity sector and the statutory services to produce a prioritised action plan for tackling low pay amongst charities. 

The action plan, Tackling Low Pay in the Charity Sector: An Action Plan, cites Government cuts to charity funding, and a lack of awareness of the real Living Wage, as leading to intense competition for funding and a ‘race to the bottom’ environment on pay in the sector.

The action plan makes two key recommendations to tackle low pay within charities:

  • Government commissioning bodies should procure services based on the Living Wage as a minimum for delivery staff, by giving favourable ‘weighting’ to Living Wage bids as part of the procurement process.
  • Grant-makers should become ‘Living Wage Funders’, championing fair pay and ensuring that charities are able to pay the real Living Wage on funded projects.

Tackling Low Pay in the Charity Sector: An Action Plan is a response to the Low Pay in the Charity Sector report published in November 2017. It involved conversations with charities, umbrella bodies, trade unions, funders and workers, to identify the barriers to tackling low pay in the charity sector and the solutions to ensure charity workers earn a wage they can live on.

Read Tackling Low Pay in the Charity Sector: An Action Plan.

Read the report, Low Pay in the Charity Sector. 

Read more about the Living Wage.


Becoming a Living Wage Funder 

​By becoming a Living Wage Funder, you also become part of a strategic community of funders that support and promote the Living Wage, contributing to ending low pay in the third sector. 

Find out more about becoming a Living Wage Funder.

Find out more about becoming a Living Wage Employer.

Read more about our work to support the Living Wage campaign.

Page last updated: November 2020

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