Living Wage Foundation’s annual celebration of the Living Wage movement begins on Monday 6 November. The focus this year is supporting workers through the cost of living crisis, which follows the release of improved real Living Wage rates a fortnight ago.
People’s Health Trust works closely with the Living Wage Foundation because we understand the significance of a decent income to health and wellbeing. While the cost of food and energy remain high, it has never been more important to support low paid workers through the ongoing cost of living crisis that has left many people worse off than they were a year ago.
As well as immediate financial concerns that millions face, many people experience long term health implications as a result of low pay. People who are unemployed, underemployed or on the lowest incomes are more likely to have worse physical or mental health as a direct result. Existing inequalities in life expectancy are also affected: the gap between some of the most disadvantaged and most affluent areas in England is over nine years in England, over seven years in Wales and over 13 in Scotland. Decent income can help reduce these imbalances and help more people live longer, healthier lives.
Insufficient income and its effects on health are not shared equally. Living Wage Foundation research shows that minority ethnic workers are disproportionately paid the lowest wages in the UK while recent research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that the number of minority ethnic workers in insecure jobs more than doubled between 2011 and 2022.
An estimated two million women in the UK are paid below the real Living Wage – almost 25 per cent more than male counterparts. They are also more likely to be employed on zero-hour contracts or other precarious work - 13 per cent compared to nine per cent of men, Living Wage Foundation found.
Through the growth of the Living Wage movement, over 460,000 people each year are supported through pay uplifts. In the third sector, 14.1 per cent of workers are currently not paid enough to live, down from 26.2 per cent in 2017, but there is still some way to go. In 2015, People’s Health Trust became a founding member of the Living Wage Funders scheme which recognises the link between low pay in the third sector and how small voluntary and charity organisations are funded. Through the scheme, we support all of the projects we fund to ensure their staff are paid the real Living Wage.
The Trust currently funds Make it Happen Birkenhead and supports the project to pay its staff the current rate of the Living Wage. Project members support one another through craft and gardening sessions designed to improve community engagement, and the project also brings people together to influence the local council’s regeneration work.
Amy Butterworth, CEO at Make it Happen Birkenhead said: “Organisations that provide the real Living Wage believe in better opportunities for everyone and are committed to their duty of care. Being part of the Living Wage movement and paying a fair wage supports a better quality of life and wellbeing for employees and sets an example for other organisations to show that together we can tackle the problem of low pay.”
The Trust also helps to fund Living Wage Places, a programme that supports areas, towns, cities or regions to embed the real Living Wage across a number of local employers and institutions. With our support, Living Wage Places are growing in Salford, Cardiff, Southwark, Birmingham, Islington, Greater Manchester, Sunderland, Newcastle, Norwich, and the Royal Docks in Newham.
Research from Living Wage Employers shows that 75 per cent of employers can transition to the real Living Wage with little or no disruption and 94 per cent of businesses experience positive effects among staff and customers as a result. The Living Wage Places network supported 42,000 pay rises for employees in 2022.
Living Wage Week takes place from 6 November to 12 November. For a full list of online and in-person events and to see how you can get involved, please visit Living Wage Foundation’s website.