The Independent finds that not a single high street retailer will guarantee the living wage

Meanwhile a report by the CSJ finds that over a quarter of workers are stuck on low pay for five years or more


Today research carried out by the Independent reveals that not a single high street retail chain has guaranteed to pay its staff the living wage. Citizens UK, the charity that launched the living wage campaign, said that retailers need to consider their social responsibilities – they employ the biggest group of low-paid staff, and even chains which market themselves as ‘ethical’ like the Cooperative are not signed up to the living wage scheme.

The findings come as the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) calls on big firms to share their profits with workers. In a new report, the CSJ say that some businesses are taking advantage of the benefits system, paying below the living wage in the knowledge that the state will essentially top up the earnings of the low-paid with tax credits.

The CSJ emphasises the cyclical nature of low pay and how hard it can be to break out of, estimating that around a quarter of workers are stuck within 5p of the minimum wage for five years or more. It also finds that 4.3 million UK workers in the UK have skills and qualifications exceeding those needed for their job, and suggests that businesses have a responsibility to help their employers progress in their careers.

The report’s author David Skelton reminds us that:

“Low pay and poverty are often associated with a host of other social problems, including family breakdown, serious personal debt and an endless cycle of social and economic deprivation. These are all problems that prevent families and communities from realising their full potential.”

Skelton also recommends sizeable increases in the minimum wage, until there is evidence that this is harming employment and resulting in job losses. The CSJ say that:

“It’s accepted by most living wage campaigners that it is unaffordable for some firms and that making it statutory would cost around 160,000 jobs. It is right that there should be no push to making the living wage statutory, but there should be a greater push towards ensuring that those large employers who can pay the living wage do pay it.”

To this end, the report recommends that companies with an annual turnover of more than £100 million should be expected to state on company letterheads and other marketing documents whether or not they pay the living wage. It also calls on big companied to deliver an annual report into the measures they are taking to become living wage employers.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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11 Responses to “The Independent finds that not a single high street retailer will guarantee the living wage”

  1. damon

    I’m all for raising the wages for the low paid.
    Will it have a proper knock on effect up the wage scale though?
    The agency I work for pays as low as £7 an hour for van drivers.
    £8 an hour for 7.5 ton truck drivers – for which you need a heavy goods licence.
    And £9 an hour for the largest rigid trucks like removal lorries.
    If people stacking shelves in the Co-Op were on £8.50 an hour, I think I’d want a pay rise too.

  2. littleoddsandpieces

    ..that some businesses are taking advantage of the benefits system, paying below the living wage in the knowledge that the state will essentially top up the earnings of the low-paid with tax credits. …

    Universal Credits will put an end to all that 2016-2017, because UC will replace working tax credit, which will sanction workers for not moving from part time to full time hours.

    Sanctions under UC will become permanent, because Hardship payments will become recoverable loans against future benefit or wages.

    So someone sanctioned off benefit, then gaining HP will lose a lot of future low wage to the recoverable loan, directly deducted.

    The low paid are neither in the welfare state nor will get a state pension forever,

    from low wages below the Lower Earning Level accruing nil automatic National Insurance Credits.

    The flat rate state pension law from 2016 will require a minimum of 10 years NI contributions or credit history to get any state penson.

    See more under:

    Today you get some state penson from 1 year NI history.

    Meanwhile, firms paying LEL far below the minimum wage not only do not pay any NI for that worker, but also no PAYE tax.

    This denies government billions in tax, far, far more than any tax avoidance schemes by the tiny minority in society of the super rich.

    With the low wages also comes no income tax from workers far below the basic tax allowance.

    So little or no tax from businesses or from their workers.

    And low wages mean less money in the economy for consumer spending to support business.

    If there was a living wage law it would mean for all workers equally.

    Plaid Cymru’s manifesto this election is for a Welsh living wage policy.

    The only way to get a living wage from firms who could afford it, and nil NI and PAYE for small firms so they could afford to grant a living wage, is more likely to be achieved if the mix of parties with Labour are more than just the insufficient of with the Scottish SNP.

    Parties offering anything to half the population who are poor, far below average income are on my little website, to help the poor choose MPs that will rule in government and utterly change Labour, to bring about a majority government of several parties of at least 323 MPs altogether.

    – Trade Unionisty and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)

    – Class War

    – Mebyon Kernow of Cornwall
    (in a past council election offered to cut council bosses’ salary and
    grant all basic grade council staff a living wage)

    More about their logos and other links and information to put your pencil cross by on Thursday 7 May are at:

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    The evidence is that it does have a knock-on effect.

    Look at the studies of the Minimum Wage – the % of people on it has also been steady (until the Coalition started with austerity, which has caused it to soar), which is not what you’d see if there were not pay rises because of it.

  4. Barrie Thompson

    The living wage is to be aimed for and all companies no matter the size should be paying it therefore it has to be applied through legislation a Labour Government must introduce it but let’s start at a sensible level of £11 per hour that would really have the effect that the minimum wade legislation was meant to have of removing children from poverty but the last Labour Government set the figure too low what we also need to do is make sure that those already on a higher wage rate than the living wage should not expect to have a rise just to keep the differential any rise they get must be based on cost of living or increased skill level and productivity increases that is fair way to go. Also any surpluses resulting in bonus paments made by companies employing more than 50 people should be distributed between all employees not just the top 1% earners.

  5. damon

    £11 an hour minimum wage. That would be good. Though half of Poland would probably come over to take most of the jobs.
    If there was no differential in pay rates why would anyone bother with a job which was harder or had more responsibility? I had this last time I was driving for a home delivery company and went out with a second man helper/porter. I was doing all the driving, plus the same amount of carrying the goods as he was doing when we got there. While on the road, my porters either played with their phones or went to sleep. When I asked one why didn’t he try for a driving position he told me that for the extra pound an hour he couldn’t be bothered.
    Also at £11 for minimum wage, many jobs would disappear I bet.

  6. Guest

    And the Other is always your issue.
    As you bring up the Jobpocalyse which…oh look, hasn’t happened in Australia.

  7. damon

    I don’t know what you’re on about as usual.
    But your against capitalism I take it.
    Good luck with that.

  8. sarntcrip


  9. Guest

    So you can’t read English as usual.
    As you demand lower wages, as you’re a capitalist.
    Hence you lied.


  10. El

    Why is everyone so obsessed with getting more than others. Everyone should have the right to a minimum, say £10/hour. Then if you get more, great, if you don’t and want to, train and work towards a better job. I personally think that if more jobs had more similar salaries, maybe we’d get better and more honest people doing jobs they really care about. Two examples, MP and care worker. I personally think care workers do a much harder job in a lot of ways, have more responsibility and also, should be people that want to be in the job rather than just doing it because they have few job prospects. On the other hand, if MPs got paid a max of £30k, I bet a lot less w****rs would get involved and we’d probably get some more honest and people centred MPs who actually cared about making life better for their constitutes.

  11. Leon Wolfeson

    I’d rather have a basic income than raise the minimum wage. Then people would have far more leverage with employers.

    And no, you’d just get an even higher proportion of rich people working as MP’s – you really need to look at why, historically, MP’s are paid.

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