One in four jobs outside of London now pays less than the Living Wage

Jobs paying below the Living Wage have proliferated around the country


According to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the proportion of jobs outside London paying less than the Living Wage has increased to almost one-in-four. Jobs paying below the Living Wage have proliferated around the country.

Between April 2008 and April 2010, the proportion of jobs paid less than the Living Wage in London remained stable at around 13 per cent, but it had risen to 19 per cent by April 2014.

There are only three years of estimates available for the rest of the UK, but the ONS says that the proportion of employee jobs paid less than the Living Wage rose from 21 per cent in April 2012 to 23 per cent in April 2014.

Northern Ireland had the highest proportion of jobs paying less than the Living Wage at 29 per cent. In the South-East of England, London and Scotland, 19 per cent of jobs paid less than the Living Wage.

Across the UK in 2014, there were about 6 million jobs paying less than the Living Wage, of which over half were part-time jobs. Some industries stand out. For example, in accommodation and food services in 2014, an estimated 65 per cent of employee jobs paid less than the Living Wage in London and 70 per cent in the rest of the UK.

55 per cent of London retail jobs paid less than the Living Wage, and 59 per cent of retail jobs in the rest of the UK. Other industries also have high proportions of jobs paying below the Living Wage – for example, administrative and support services, arts, entertainment and recreation, and agriculture, forestry and fishing all had over one-third of jobs paying below the Living Wage in 2014.

Although there have been increases in both men and women earning below the Living Wage, the increases have been greater for female than for male jobs.

In 2014, the gap between the proportion of male and female jobs below the Living Wage was 6 percentage points in London and 11 percentage points in the rest of the UK.

This works out as 3.6 million female employee jobs below the living wage in the UK in 2014, compared with 2.3 million male employee jobs.

The Conservative government has repeatedly claimed that it will ‘make work pay’, as it tries to brand itself as the new party of working people. The soaring number of people being paid below the hourly rate necessary to meet basic living standards is difficult to square with this claim.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, commented on the figures:

“The government’s Trade Union Bill will make it even harder for people to get fair wages. It will shift the balance of power in the workplace towards employers, making it harder to bring poverty-pay bosses to the negotiating table.

“If the government really wanted to deliver fairer pay it would be working with trade unions not against them.”

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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8 Responses to “One in four jobs outside of London now pays less than the Living Wage”

  1. David Davies

    £7.85 is an hourly rate NOT a living wage. £7.85 x 0 = £0.

    Even £7,85 x 40 = £314/week before tax/NI, and I would like to see the likes of IDS live off that.

  2. andagain

    Then after the Living Wage is required, I suppose a lot of people will be thrown out of work. Just what everyone wants.

  3. Luke Blakey

    why? Wages are based on potential productivity and efficiency and actual productivity (which produce sales, which fund wages), among other market factors. Entrepreneurial talent and focus is what drives a economy forward. Directed Investments such as higher wages have to lead to higher returns for businesses, otherwise capitalism wouldn’t work.

  4. andagain

    Wages are based on potential productivity and efficiency and actual productivity

    If that is true of the people who earn less than the living wage, then it will not pay to hire them, if you are required to pay no less than the living wage. So requiring people to pay a Living Wage higher than the wages of a quarter of the population in work would lead to a lot of those people being laid off.

    Paying higher wages is an investment only if it allows you to hire better employees than your current ones. Which means you no longer need the current ones.

  5. Luke Blakey


    I take it you have never worked for a SME or for yourself andagain. The REAL economy isn’t like unemployment, or attending primary school, in Jobs people have managers, and businesses have owners: people who seek higher profits, turnover and security and make continual changes big, small, hard and easy to achieve it, day in, day out. Hard work today laid down on the hardwork of yesterday, utilised to create abetter more profitable present in the future.

    “Which means you no longer need the current ones.” Not quite sure where you get that from, inertia is a big driver in life, and recruitment is a big undertaking for any concern, big or small. Investing in people and processes is a key driver in efficiency. On the whole easier just to work better in the day to day, rather than rely on blue sky thinking, babies born walking and talking mandarin or a super race of peaceful aliens to come along and solve all problems.

    Entreprenuralism does exist and is a source of great innovation and progress. Stalinist determinism is theory. It doesn’t work.

  6. andagain

    The point is that paying people more money is not an investment. If you require people to pay the same employees more, that is not an investment you are requiring them to make. It is an expense.

    The only way inceasing wages could ever be an investment is if it allows you to replace your employees with better ones. Then it MIGHT be worth it.

    I take it you have never worked for a SME or for yourself

    Have you ever run one? Did you ever invest money by raising wages? How did you get your accountant to agree it was an investment?

  7. Luke Blakey

    “replace your employees with better ones” Recruitment is a expensive outlay in time, managerial skill and money for any business, (much greater than those who get to the interview stage might realise) and mistakes can be costly. Costs to the value of two or three years wages can be incurred by staff in businesses who should not have been hired: they may well be sacked within weeks, but costs they might cause might be incurred for months/years after any mistake, a big waste of tight resources.If past managers have recruited poorly then needing replacements can be a big& immediate call on resources, as the successful candidates fail to perform and get replaced and finding good candidates to fill holes quickly is necessary but expensive. As a result there is a focus on investing in people and organically growing talent businesses already have, as a cost efficient route to better work. some workplaces have extended this to the whole workforce, CEO to temp, Cleaners to Marketing Managers :we are a single team and aside from the office cleaner its just us, so not quite as new economy.

    The amount of revenue/profit&cost per hour a employee/team division brings is a component of many things, does vary over days/months years and outlying staff may well be promoted or moved on as a result. Not just binary 0/1, good/bad but can take up a big amount of time working out, if effective systems aren’t in place to capture and quantify this. The key is to maintain and improve performance of the core, of most people of the team, while recognising even people from outside the business will take a chunk (eg the chancellor/outside professionals) out for what they put in. Wage rises can be a effective way of rewarding team members for upping their game, for taking on extra responsibilities or recognising there game has always been stronger, but the pie is bigger than it was in the past, with which to reward it. Ultimately professional/ more effective work, engendering greater numbers of returning clients and attracting new customers means more revenues and profit with which to recompense stakeholders. The 1997 act turned out to have beneficial effects that its opponents using snapshot views of economies didn’t expect. I suspect reaching £9 ph by 2025 etc will have dramatic impacts, most of which are positive. It also will save the government some money, which is probably why it is happening now.

    raising wages in step with improving profitability is one tool towards boosting long term profitability/sustainability and can be used to small or large effect depending on circumstances. Whether or not shareholders agree its is a appropriate action is very much down to how it is communicated and what immediate results can be achieved.

    Yes. Yes and to your final question: the accountant sets her own wages and invoices them as a expense for professional services in the accounts: I’ve never heard of a accountant recommending their wage be cut and am happy that the set up at the moment means we benefit from both a potentially good (she is qualified) and a actually good (she is engaged and applies her skills to make creative suggestion/ fill in paperwork precisely) accountant, who outperforms a accountant who is cheap as chips, who might be qualified to sign bits of paper, but is no good at supporting the entrepreneurialism which actually goes into the causing the £p figures the paperwork actually reports, rather than might (according to a textbook say) report. We aren’t the accountants only clients, but I believe we see the benefits of our moneys worth: a ‘investment’ in the meaning i use it above.

    This new Minimum Wage for over 25s is a minimum, not a maximum, and the decisions/results that make increases economic can take years to come on steam (not at a swoosh of a pen), however, with careful calibration for the economic cycle this policy could be fulfilled by 2023-5 and the symbolic £9 ph might even be reached at the time the chancellor indicates rather than late (though the real terms increase to 60% might take ages to actually get to)

  8. Harold

    Most business operate with the level of staff they need, not what they can afford as if they would employ more or less subject to the rate of pay. This argument increasing pay cuts employment has been used many times, the introduction of Minimum Wage was on occasion and then as like now it was a false argument.

    There are many factors in running a successful business and business which chose to pay less usually have a high turnover of staff, higher recruiting costs and training bills. Equally the staff is any companies greatest asset, not cost, try running a company with poor, unmotivated staff.

    If wages increased by 10% over the next few years, I am not suggesting they will, many companies would greatly benefit from the higher spend this would generate.

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