Arch­bishop’s liv­ing wage plea

The Church of England - - FRONT PAGE -

A COM­MIS­SION chaired by Arch­bishop John Sen­tamu has warned that mil­lions of work­ers will miss out on the eco­nomic re­cov­ery un­less they are paid a liv­ing wage.

A new re­port from the in­de­pen­dent Liv­ing Wage Com­mis­sion shows over five mil­lion peo­ple are liv­ing on less than the liv­ing wage set at £7.95 an hour, £8.80 in Lon­don. The num­ber of work­ers paid less than the liv­ing wage ac­tu­ally in­creased by nine per cent over the past year.

The re­port says low paid work­ers have been hit by ris­ing costs, par­tic­u­larly in en­ergy and hous­ing. Food costs 44 per cent more than it did in 2005 while en­ergy prices have dou­bled.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, “one in ev­ery five work­ers are paid less than they need to main­tain a ba­sic, but so­cially ac­cept­able stan­dard of liv­ing”.

Re­fer­ring to Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary Iain Dun­can Smith’s prom­ise to ‘make work pay’, Dr Sen­tamu claimed that “the idea of mak­ing work pay is an empty slo­gan to mil­lions of peo­ple who are hard pressed and work­ing hard, but find them­selves in a down­ward so­cial spi­ral”.

He ar­gued that “with the econ­omy show­ing signs of re­cov­ery, em­ploy­ers that can pay a liv­ing wage must do so. They should choose be­tween con­tin­u­ing to make gains on the back of poverty wages or do the right thing and pay a fair day’s wage for a hard day’s work”.

As a re­sult of low pay, the Arch­bishop warned, tax­pay­ers would still be pay­ing out mil­lions in ben­e­fits de­spite the eco­nomic re­cov­ery be­cause wages were so low.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Sen­tamu, poorly paid peo­ple of­ten have to take on two or three jobs to make ends meet. The re­port shows that a worker on a liv­ing wage gets dou­ble the amount of fam­ily time as some­one on the min­i­mum wage dur­ing a typ­i­cal week and it also pro­duces ev­i­dence to show that chil­dren of par­ents on low wage are less likely to achieve at school.

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