THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, this week helped to launch
the latest UK Living Wage, an hourly rate intended to recognise a
fair day's work with a fair day's pay.
This year, the rate is £7.45, with a higher London rating of
£8.55, and is designed to reflect the cost of living more
accurately than the national minimum wage of £6.19.
Several public employers immediately agreed to support the
policy, including the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and Sheffield
City Council, in Yorkshire. Almost 100 companies are also
"Paying a decent wage for our workers is a sign that as a nation
- publicly, privately, corporately, and individually - we recognise
the unique contribution of others to the common good," Dr Sentamu
said. "We need to value each and every person rather than cutting
adrift those unfortunate enough to find themselves at the
The UK Living Wage is calculated by the Centre for Research in
Social Policy, at Loughborough University, and is based on work on
the Minimum Income Standard by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in
Launching the new rate, Dr Sentamu said: "One in five people in
work is not paid a living wage. That is an absolute scandal, given
the wealth of our nation. You would think, listening to the
rhetoric of some of our elected political representatives, that the
problems of poverty in this country are caused by people choosing
to be unemployed, choosing to be on benefits, and deciding not to
contribute to making society stronger.
"Actually, when you look at the figures, you can see that six
out of ten families in the UK living in poverty have at least one
adult in paid work."
About 11,500 workers have benefited from the rate since it was
introduced in 2005, but nearly five million are paid less.
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, set out proposals this week to
give tax breaks to companies that pay the living wage, and to name
and shame those that do not.
The Federation of Small Businesses, however, said that while it
supported the idea, it faced financial difficulties. "Small firms
want to pay their employees more, and recognise the benefits of
doing so," its chairman, John Walker, said. "However, they are
struggling to manage cash-flow in the midst of weak economic demand
and increasing energy and fuel costs."