Blog & Articles

Living wage – coming to a city near you

Date: 10. May 2012
Gavin Kelly

This post originally appeared on Gavin's New Statesman blog

The last time a letter left on a desk caused such a stir it involved an exchange between two senior politicians about the future of the country’s finances. This time the note was from a group of Whitehall cleaners to Iain Duncan Smith asking him to make good on his commitment to make work pay and make his department, DWP, a living wage employer. The fact that it so caught the public mood says something about how the question of low pay has risen in salience. 

This is in no small part due to the success of the living wage campaign, a grass-roots movement formed just over a decade ago, to push for a decent wage – above the minimum wage - for workers. It has helped shine a light on the rising problem of in-work poverty. In an era when there are many structural forces bearing down on low pay – from shifts in technology and trade to the continued demise of collective bargaining and the real terms falls in the minimum wage - the momentum behind the campaign for a living wage is a rare example of at least some countervailing pressure.

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Living Wage blog

Making pay work: can the living wage provide a comprehensive route to improving living standards?

Date: 9. May 2011
Matthew Whittaker and Kayte Lawton

Earlier this month, the living wage campaign celebrated its ten year anniversary with a gathering of two and half thousand supporters in central London. It is an important time for the movement, as it seeks to significantly extend the scope of the living wage by targeting major low-wage employers. Achieving this ambition is likely to raise new challenges, pointing to the need for a better understanding of the costs, benefits and potential trade-offs of the concept.

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