The living wage should not be compulsory because it would be a burden on business, says Boris

The rate of pay deemed enough to live on is currently voluntary

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Indy Politics

The living wage should not be made compulsory because it would be a burden on small businesses, Boris Johnson has said.

The Mayor of London has previously said the policy should be “massively expanded” nationwide and be “one of the great national ambitions”.

He however this morning rejected calls for the Government to legislate to raise the minimum wage up to the level.

“I don’t want the living wage to be made absolutely compulsory,” he told LBC Radio on Wednesday.

Living wage pay for cleaners in Central London has been one of campaigners' core demands

“If you talk to a lot of people who’ve really led on this, London Citizens, the people who many years ago got this movement going , they don’t want it made compulsory.

“They don’t want every single small business to be obliged by law to pay something that might really damage their ability to survive.”

Some campaigners and politicians have called for the living wage to be made compulsory on the basis that voluntary adoption is rare.

An investigation conducted in March found that not a single high street chain had signed up to provide the voluntary rate, despite posting huge profits.

In October last year the Coalition Government’s social mobility tsar, former Labour minister Alan Milburn, said the wage should be made compulsory.


The major parties have shied away from raising the minimum wage to the rate, however. Before it lost the election, Labour said it would only raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour by 2019.

The party also offered tax breaks to firms who adopted the wage. George Osborne has committed his government to only raising the minimum wage above inflation.

One Labour leadership contender, Liz Kendall, has proposed that the Low Pay Commission be given power to lobby businesses to voluntarily introduce the wage.

The living wage is an hourly pay rate set independently and updated annually, calculated according to meeting basic living costs in Britain.

The rate is currently £7.85 an hour in the UK and £9.15 in London, where living costs are higher.