Reports suggests more than 10,000 St Helens workers earning less than 'living wage' (From St Helens Star)
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Reports suggests more than 10,000 St Helens workers earning less than 'living wage'
MORE than 10,000 workers across St Helens are believed to earn below the ‘living wage’, a new study has suggested.
The authors of a report published by the Resolution Foundation – a think- tank which aims to improve the standard of living for low to middle income families – estimate between 10,400 and 15,700 workers earn less money than is needed for a reasonable standard of living.
The living wage, set at £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 an hour in the rest of the UK, is independently set on an annual basis.
It is based on the amount an individual is said to need to earn to cover the basic costs of living.
It is different than the national minimum wage in the UK, which is the legal requirement businesses must meet and significantly lower.
From October 1, 2013 the national minimum wage will be £6.31 an hour for adults, and £5.03 for those aged 18 to 21.
The figures are thought to be particularly relevant because they suggest that while in the Government’s eyes the economy is “healing” there are many working families – hit by pay freezes or cuts since the economic slump – who are struggling to make ends meet.
The foundation states that a fifth of workers across the whole of the UK earn less than the living wage. In the north west 571,000 workers earn less than that figure.
Economist and report author, Matthew Whittaker said: “In the north west there has been a rise from 429,000 to 571,000 employees earning below the Living Wage since 2009.
“Compared to the national figures, there has been a rise of five per cent in the past four years and something needs to be done to help people who are working for a low standard of living.”
The report also highlighted how more than half of those earning below the living wage were in lower-skilled occupations such as cleaners, security guards, leisure workers and bar staff.
It was also revealed that one third of workers on casual or zero hour contracts were earning less than the living wage.
Zero contracts are becoming increasingly popular with businesses, which are able to take on a large workforce without the commitment of dedicating set hours to employees.
The controversial employment method has attracted widespread criticism, and although St Helens councillors have raised concern about the practice in the town it is not clear how many workers are signed up to those terms.
It is feared that a lack of consistency in hours is causing some workers to resort to taking out payday loans, with some being sucked into debt when repayments start.
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