Why paying the London Living Wage has never been more important
This week, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced the new London Living Wage rate of £10.85 per hour. The London Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay set independently and updated annually. Unlike the UK government’s National Living Wage, it reflects the real cost of living in London. Over 2000 employers in London are now accredited Living Wage employers, an increase of over 220% since the Mayor was elected in 2016.
Key workers, such as delivery drivers, care workers, supermarket assistants, cleaners and NHS workers are doing an incredible job of keeping our country going in the toughest of circumstances – and we have rightfully celebrated their contributions. Our reliance on London’s key workers has never been clearer – but many of them are not paid a decent wage. Living Wage Week, which takes place across the UK this week, provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on how we truly value them.
This week’s announcements will see 84,040 workers in London receive a vital pay boost. Since 2011, over £630m in extra wages has gone to low-income workers in London thanks to the Living Wage movement, including nearly £100m since the start of lockdown.
Sadly, however, one in five workers in London are still not earning this amount, including many who provide essential services to our city. Even before Covid-19 we knew too many working Londoners were living in poverty. These Londoners and their families are missing out on meals, falling behind on high rents and bills, and struggling with childcare. Many work in public-facing roles that place them at a higher risk from coronavirus.
Paying the London Living Wage offers stability and some certainty at a time when there are many unknowns. The business case for paying a real living wage has always been clear in terms of improved staff retention and improved productivity. But at a time when we are all reflecting on what we want from our society as we recover from the pandemic, it is the moral case that truly stands out - paying a living wage is the right thing to do.
Both the Mayor and I support the Living Wage campaign through the Mayor’s Good Work Standard and promote the real Living Wage wherever we can. This week I opened an event with supply chain businesses on how we can work together to champion the Living Wage and good work amongst our networks.
I am calling on all London employers – of all sizes and sectors - to pay their workforce the London Living Wage. But especially, I want those big institutions that represent London and embody our city and our communities to lead by example – such as our universities, local authorities and hospitals. It is fantastic to see employers such as the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust showing that leadership by becoming an accredited Living Wage employer this week.
As London recovers, we need to dispel the myth that the goals of economic recovery, creating jobs and reducing inequality are somehow in conflict. The truth is they go hand-in-hand, which is something we can, and must, demonstrate once again in London.
Visit the Living Wage Foundation’s website to sign up today-