Scotland has the highest proportion of workers earning the Living Wage than any other nation in the United Kingdom, according to new figures.
Figures revealed by the Scottish National Party (SNP), obtained through a written parliamentary question, show that 18.4 per cent of workers in Scotland are earning less than the Living Wage. This is compared to 23.9 per cent in Wales, 27.6 per cent in Northern Ireland 21.7 percent in England.
The SNP has called on the UK Government to do more to promote the benefits of the real Living Wage, as figures from the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre show that only 24 FTSE 100 companies are accredited Living Wage employers.
SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald, who obtained the figures, said: “These figures are very encouraging and are a reflection of the commitment the Scottish Government, local government, the third sector and businesses across Scotland have made to the promotion of the Living Wage.
“The Scottish Government has paid all staff within their pay scheme, including NHS staff, a Living Wage since 2011 and became an accredited Living Wage employer earlier this year.
“Some 318 employers in Scotland have now signed up to the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Scheme – a fantastic achievement that takes us a long way to meeting the target of 500 by March next year.
“But the revelation that many of the UK’s biggest businesses – less than a quarter of the FTSE 100 companies – are yet to become accredited Living Wage employers shows just how much work there is left to do.
“Businesses such as SSE, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Aberdeen Asset Management have already seen the reputational and economic benefits of becoming an accredited Living Wage employer – I would encourage other big businesses to explore these substantial benefits.
“In contrast to the Scottish Government’s approach, the UK Government has done little to nothing to promote the Living Wage. Rather than working with trade unions and businesses to promote fair work and decent pay – the Tory Business Secretary spends his time attacking workers’ rights and trade unions.
“I call on the Business Secretary to work with the UK’s biggest employers to promote the benefits of the real Living Wage and ensure more people are paid a decent wage.”
Chancellor George Osborne announced the introduction of a ‘National Living Wage’ (NLW) in the Summer Budget, to replace the ‘National Minimum Wage’.
The minimum an employer will be permitted to pay their workers will rise to £7.20 per hour next year, increasing yearly to reach £9.00 per hour by the end of the parliament (2020).
However, the UK Government has faced criticism for describing the hourly rise as a Living Wage. This is because the true Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.
According to the Living Wage Foundation, the current UK Living Wage is £7.85 an hour outside of London and £9.15 an hour in London – higher than the so-called NLW and could increase further if the cost of living rises.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that Osborne’s NLW will not compensate for lost income caused by cuts to in-work tax credits.
Millions of working households in the UK could see their income fall by around £750 a year, despite of rising wage packets – some of the poorest families could lose even more.