South Tyneside firms shun 'living wage' scheme

Fewer than a handful of employers in South Tyneside have signed up to the voluntary ‘living wage’ scheme, new figures show.

Living wage figures.
Living wage figures.

The Living Wage Foundation (LWF) encourages employers to sign up to pay a "real" living wage – which is higher than the minimum wage and pegged to living costs.

It’s data show there were just four accredited real living wage employers in South Tyneside as of the start of July – up from one five years ago.

They are among 155 real living wage employers in the North East – an increase from 44 in 2017.

The figures come as soaring fuel, energy and food costs have put wages under the spotlight.

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The voluntary ‘living wage’ rate currently stands at £9.90 an hour across the UK and £11.05 in London, to reflect higher prices in the capital.

The national legal minimum wage is £9.50 an hour.

LWF director Katherine Chapman, said the cost-of-living crisis has made increasing wages for the low-paid "more important than ever" and that paying the living wage is not only "the right thing to do for struggling workers and families, but it’s also good for businesses, with employers benefitting from greater staff morale and productivity, and reduced staff absenteeism and turnover".

Nationally, 10,000 employers had signed up to the scheme – covering nearly 350,000 workers, or around 1 in 13 employees in the UK.

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A spokesperson for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the Government is "determined to make work pay".

They added: “In the long-term, we are committed to building a high skilled, high wage economy.”