31 October 2014

Living Wage Week 2014

Living Wage Week takes place from 2 - 8 November this year; it’s a UK-wide celebration of the Living Wage and Living Wage Employers, and aims to raise awareness of the Living Wage and the Living Wage Employer Mark.

We’re supporting Living Wage Week as we not only believe in paying our employees the Living Wage, but we are committed to supporting the Living Wage Foundation to help spur other companies across the UK to join.

The Living Wage: reflecting the real cost of living

The cost of living is rising, but not everyone’s wages are keeping pace.

The issue of low pay in the UK is a contentious one. While the National Minimum Wage (This link will open in a new window), which now stands at £6.50 per hour for those aged 21 and over, is recognised as having helped to eradicate very low pay, many feel it still doesn’t go far enough.

The Living Wage (This link will open in a new window) was launched in 2001 in an attempt to reflect the true cost of living today in the UK. Unlike the Minimum Wage, employers aren’t required to pay it, but it’s becoming more popular among businesses as they come to recognise its benefits. Living Wage advocates say it makes ethical and moral sense: good for families, good for society.

The difference between the Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage, which could add up to over £140 a month, according to April 2014 research (This link will open in a new window) commissioned by Nationwide and the Living Wage Foundation, should really help towards food and bills, and allow people to save. Take a look at the results of our poll in the infographic below.

What is the Living Wage?

  • An hourly rate set independently and updated annually, calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK
  • It’s promoted by the Living Wage Foundation
  • There’s no legal requirement to pay it but many employers do

Who’s pledged to pay it?

Hundreds of firms, including ITV, Nestle, Oxfam, and Nationwide.

In April this year, Nationwide became a principal partner of the Living Wage, becoming the first major high street brand to sign up to Living Wage. Nationwide pledged to ensure that everyone regularly working on our premises is paid the Living Wage, even if they are not our direct employees.

Is the National Minimum Wage enough?

As our accompanying infographic shows, our research suggests:

  • Only 9% of people think they’d have a reasonable standard of living on the National Minimum Wage (about £950 a month)
  • Just over half (51%) said they’d need to earn at least £1,100 a month to enjoy a good standard of living – roughly equivalent to a monthly salary on the Living Wage
  • 85% feel companies who can afford it should pay the Living Wage

Our graphic shows pay levels across the UK; see what the state of play is where you live.

Extra cash

Low pay, coupled with rising living costs, makes it difficult for many people to pay for everyday items and essentials, and leaves little or no opportunity to put money aside for savings.

For a full time worker, an increase from the Minimum Wage to the Living Wage would result in an extra £148.07 a month. Our research shows the top five things people would choose to do with this extra cash are:

  • Savings (48%)
  • Food (46%)
  • Bills (41%)
  • Luxury goods like clothes and eating out (20%)
  • Petrol and car insurance (11%)

Benefits of the Living Wage

Our research shows its good for employers and employees:

  • 54% of people say they’d be more likely to buy something from a Living Wage-paying company
  • Fairness, reputation and employee benefits are seen as the top three business benefits of the Living Wage
  • Those polled cited a better work/life balance, fewer sick days and increased productivity as among the personal benefits of the Living Wage

What people say about the Living Wage

“Nationwide’s Living Wage accreditation shows our commitment to doing the right thing by our people and we are proud to take a leading role in the campaign for fairer pay.”
Alison Robb, group director at Nationwide (This link will open in a new window) (This link will open in a new window)

"Over 10,000 London families have been lifted out of working poverty as a direct result of the Living Wage.”
Professor Jane Wills, Queen Mary University of London (This link will open in a new window) (This link will open in a new window)

"Paying a living wage makes a huge difference to the individuals and their families and yet does not actually cost an employer much more.”
Marianne Fallon, head of corporate affairs at KPMG (This link will open in a new window) (This link will open in a new window)

Living on the Living Wage infographic

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