Scandal of 5m on less than the living wage

Shock study reveals that 4.8m people earn too little to meet basic standards

Britain's worst double-dip recession since the 1950s has left a fifth of all workers struggling to get by on less than the living wage, a major report to be published today will reveal.

Almost five million workers are being paid less than the amount considered necessary to afford a basic standard of living – £8.30 an hour in London, and £7.30 outside the capital.

Care workers, bar staff, waiters and retail staff on low incomes have been hit hardest by the downturn, the report, commissioned by accountancy firm KPMG, found.

The research is being published ahead of Living Wage Week, which starts on November 4 and will see new rates announced for London and the rest of the country.

A number of employers have voluntarily adopted the independently calculated standards, which compare with the statutory national minimum wage of just £6.19 an hour.

But that has been dismissed as hopelessly inadequate by campaigners, who report low-paid workers across Britain are bearing the brunt of a brutal double-dip recession that has been characterised by a squeeze on incomes combined with rising taxes and high levels of inflation.

The study, carried out by Markit on behalf of accountancy giant KPMG, reported bar staff, restaurant workers, catering and retail staff had been worst affected by the downturn. Official figures showed that the UK economy roared back in the last quarter, surprising economists with growth of 1 per cent after a bleak first half of the year.

But any benefits are evading those earning low incomes in the UK, the report showed, with four in 10 low-paid workers admitting their finances are worse now than they were just a month ago. That compared with just 25 per cent of workers on incomes above the level. By proportion of the population, Northern Ireland has the highest level of people earning wages beneath the living wage level, closely followed by Wales (23 per cent). London and the North West are the highest by number with 570,000 each.

Some 38 per cent of respondents below the living wage say they have poorer cash availability now than a month ago, compared with 27 percent of those earning above, indicating that the recovery is failing to benefit those most in need.

TUC general secretary-designate Frances O'Grady called on companies to adopt the standard describing the figure of one in five workers surviving below it as "shocking".

She added: "The living wage is not a luxury, and means that low-paid workers don't have to make tough choices over whether they can afford the everyday things that most of us take for granted, such as their fuel bill or a winter coat for their children," she said. "Now more than ever is the time for employers to put an end to poverty pay."

Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: "Paying a living wage makes a huge difference to the quality of life of thousands of cleaners, caterers and security staff across the country. It is encouraging to see nearly 100 organisations now signed up and accredited. But that still leaves many more organisations that aren't."

Marianne Fallon, head of corporate affairs at KPMG, said there were sound business reasons for adopting the standard including "improved motivation and performance" together with "lower leaver and absentee rates among staff in receipt of a living wage" offsetting the extra costs of paying it.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea