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Sentamu: ‘pay a decent living wage’

09 November 2012

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 accredited payers.

"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 bottom."

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 York.

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."


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