Attitudes and awareness towards the Living Wage campaign are changing with almost 80 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of 16-17 year olds in the UK saying they have heard of the Living Wage, according to research on Living Wage commissioned by KPMG.
The national Living Wage campaign, which already enjoys cross-party political support – including public backing from the Prime Minister David Cameron and Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, independently sets an hourly rate and is updated on an annual basis. The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK and has two levels: the UK Living Wage (which is currently set at £7.85 per hour) and the London Living Wage, which is currently set at £9.15 per hour.
Looking at the social mobility issues facing the UK, the survey polled 4,500 adults and 500 16 -17 year olds to chart their views. It found that seven out of 10 UK adults would consciously shop in favour of a Living Wage accredited retail chain – a rise of more than 10 percent in less than 12 months. Though, 18-24 year olds said they were least likely to consciously shop in favour of the Living Wage with four out of 10 still wanting cheaper goods irrespective of the impact on staff.
“It’s clear from the poll that ensuring the lowest paid in society are treated fairly should be near the top of the agenda for Government and for employers alike,” said Mike Kelly, head of Living Wage at KPMG UK. “With all the main political parties’ citing action on Living Wage in their manifestos, we have moved a long way since the 2010 election and the pace of change is accelerating. With nearly a quarter of the FTSE 100 now accredited more and more employers are reaping the benefit of joining this movement. The next big challenge will be to educate our employees, customers, suppliers and clients about the range of enterprises who are Accredited so that they too can exercise informed choice.”
Rhys Moore, Director of Living Wage Foundation said: “The Living Wage is no longer a neutral debate, and the momentum is growing fast, with the number of accredited business now at over 1,400. With 80 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of 16-17 year olds having heard of the Living Wage it is now squarely main stream thanks in part to the leadership of enlightened employers.”
With the UK General Election less than a fortnight away, the research also found that a quarter of the UK’s voting population and 20 per cent of 16-17 year olds cite helping working households stay above the poverty line as the biggest issue for the next Government. Students and manual workers feel most strongly about escaping poverty, with one in three citing it as the biggest issue for the next Government. Women are almost twice as likely to cite this as the biggest issue relative to men.
The study went on to find that 60 per cent of adult men and 70 per cent of adult women cite, employers not paying enough as the reason people in the UK are living in poverty compared to 55 per cent of 16-17 year olds.
On a regional basis, the survey highlighted that Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of earners in the UK paid below Living Wage (27 per cent) but has the lowest awareness of the Living Wage across the UK regions; 7 out of 10 of people in Northern Ireland have heard of the Living Wage compared to 9 out of 10 in Scotland, the most conscious region.