The new real living wage rates have risen to £9.50 across the UK (20p increase), and £10.85 in London (10p increase). This should not be confused with the government’s National Minimum Wage which is lower and is available to workers 25 and older.
Based on the Living Wage foundation figures 210,000 workers in the North East are currently earning under the real Living Wage highlighting the stark reality of in work poverty in the region.
People who work for a living ought to earn a decent living. It is not right that so many people here in the North East do not earn enough to cover basic living costs like food for their families or money for rent and bills.
Many of those struggling to get by will be the key workers getting us through this crisis – such as carers, supermarket staff and delivery drivers. Britain is indebted to its army of minimum wage heroes. Many – including care workers and supermarket staff – are currently on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus.
The prime minister promised to ‘level up’ Britain. Ministers must start by working with unions to ‘level up’ pay and conditions across the country, including here in the North East. Nationally, the Foundation revealed that over 5.5 million workers are living below the real Living Wage.
What these figures reveal is that for many UK workers their standard of living has roughly remained the same for a decade or more. We would have to go back almost 200 years to find a freeze in living standards this bad.
This means that there is less money in our local economy and in our pockets leading to deserted highstreets and a general feeling that our country is not working for people in the middle and at the bottom.
That is why the TUC and many trade unions want to go further, we want to abolish the current minimum wage bandings which discriminate based upon age and set a new national minimum wage of £10 per hour immediately.
This is both achievable and practical, in many European Countries and States in America large legally binding boosts to the minimum wage have been passed by referendum which are equivalent of £10 per hour.
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