Is the Living wage really enough for Wales?

The Living Wage has been getting a lot of press recently, most notably when global confectionery giant Nestle decided to make sure that all its employees were paid the standard as set by The Living Wage Foundation.

While not recognised by the government as a legally enforceable wage, The Living Wage denotes a standard hourly wage that is calculated using the Minimum Income Standard for the United Kingdom as funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The Living Wage rate in the United Kingdom is currently set at £7.65, while in London it is £8.80 per hour.

Conversely, the minimum wage in Britain, as set by the government, is £6.31 for those over the age of 21, while those aged between 18 and 20 years old can earn a minimum of £5.03.

This is particularly interesting in the case of Wales, where many residents are barely making the aforementioned ‘living wage.’ According to the Living Wage Commission, 237,000 people in Wales, equivalent to 22% of the workforce, are earning less than the £7.65 per hour standard. While the Commission is campaigning to have more companies follow Nestle’s lead and embrace the hourly rate, just 18 businesses in Wales are committed to the paying the wage, while 264 businesses in London have made the change.

With this in mind, many Welsh residents are finding themselves looking to less conventional methods to top up their current wage. While some might find moonlighting to be an effective way of getting extra cash, others are embracing the World Cup spirit with a little sports betting or even playing online games like Porky Payout  to make ends meet.

Many sticklers for the Living Wage have argued that it makes good economic sense, including Mayor of London Boris Johnson. He said: “Paying the London Living Wage is not only morally right, but makes good business sense too.”

Meanwhile, over here in Wales, director of the Bevan Foundation Victoria Winckler said: “There’s a strong business case for employers paying more, because they save on recruitment and gain in terms of employee loyalty and productivity.”

If Wales is to follow suit, then it should surely look to its bigger employers to set the trend. While Nestle hasn’t made its way into Welsh territory yet, we should follow the example of London and aim to make our Living Wage employers in the hundreds rather than tens in the near future.