What is the real Living Wage?

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Written by: Alcumus
22nd July

On 13 July, Citizens UK  community leaders from across the country, including care workers and care recipients, gathered outside five major care provider headquarters. This was to call on them to commit to paying their workers the real Living Wage.

What is the real Living Wage?

The real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is voluntarily paid by over 10,000 UK businesses and is set by the Living Wage Foundation.

The current hourly rates of the real Living Ware are:

  • £9.90 outside of London
  • £11.05 in London

This is different from the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.

The National Living Wage applies to those aged 23 and over and the National Minimum Wage applies to those of at least school leaving age. There is also apprentice rate for apprentices.  The rates change on 1 April every year and below are the current rates:

April 2022

23 and over: £9.50

21 to 22: £9.18

18 to 20: £6.83

Under 18: £4.81

Apprentice: £4.81

The latest Living Wage rates were announced on Monday 15th November 2021. Employers needed to implement the rise as soon as possible and within 6 months. All employees should have received the new rate by 15th May 2022. The Living Wage Foundation has decided to bring forward the announcement of the 2022/2023 real living wage to September 2022 in response to the unprecedented rise in living costs faced by workers at present.

If you already pay the real Living Wage, it is recommended that you factor in the regular annual increase (which happens each November) earlier so potential increased wage costs are budgeted for. In 2020 it was £9.30 an hour and £10.75 in London. In 2021 it was £9.50 and £10.85 in London. As such we can see an increase of between 20 pence and 40 pence per hour per annum.

The five major care providers headquarters referenced above were Bupa and Barchester Healthcare in London; HC-One in Darlington; Four Seasons Healthcare in Cheshire; and Care UK in Colchester.

As the five biggest care providers in the UK, they operate over 1000 care homes across the country but are not accredited Living Wage employers, with some staff being paid less than the real Living Wage.

Over 250 care providers have become accredited Living Wage Employers in the last two years, whilst this is a step in the right direction, the rising cost of living has meant that more care sector workers are struggling to afford necessities like heating or eating.

This follows a previous demonstration on 30 March at Parliament Square where community leaders from around the UK, including care workers, called on MPs to support a real Living Wage for care workers in England.

Earlier this year, Greater Manchester Citizens, a chapter of Citizens UK, campaigned for care provider Anchor Hannover to commit to paying their care workers across the country the real Living Wage.

They did commit – meaning a £19m pay rise for thousands of care workers who were previously on the National Minimum Wage.

It is understood that low pay in the care sector also disproportionately affects specific groups across society, as 4 out of 5 care workers are women; 1 in 5 are Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic; and 1 in 5 are single parents.

Campaigners have outlined that the Government cannot succeed in a levelling-up agenda without acting on wage inequality in the care industry. 

Annalibera, a care worker from London and Citizens UK leader, said: “I feel fulfilment and a sense of community from caring for those who need it, but low pay makes it really hard to get by. I’ve seen colleagues leave the industry because they simply cannot live off the low wages we receive, even though they love their jobs. This results in high staff turnover, which is a big problem for many care homes, and means that those who receive care are constantly having to adapt to new people. It doesn’t offer them the stability they deserve. Things cannot continue like this. Major care providers must step up and lead the way in accrediting as real Living Wage Employers.”

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