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What will it take to pay the Living Wage in Wales?

May 4th 2016

More than a quarter of all employees in Wales are paid less than the Living Wage – the minimum hourly rate needed to afford a decent standard of living.

The increase in the statutory minimum wage for over-25 year olds in April 2016 was welcome, but falls short of the sum needed to afford the basics.  Many organisations and campaigners support a further, voluntary increase in pay.

Waitress with cupcake full size

This project developed practical proposals to make a step-change in the number of people paid a real Living Wage in Wales. The project sought to:

  • calculate the numbers and characteristics of people whose wages need to be increased to the Living Wage
  • identify the sectors and occupations in which those people are most likely work and which should be the main focus of action
  • identify the local authority areas where action is most needed
  • make recommendations about the different types of action that can be undertaken and if any have been more effective than others.

The findings were based on a mix of analysis of statistics, reviews of evidence and case studies of successful action in Wales and elsewhere in the UK. We published reports on Wales as a whole and the Cardiff Capital Region (see ‘Key Outputs’ below), and then focussed specifically on Merthyr Tydfil (click here to view the project page).

The project is funded by Cardiff Business School City Region Exchange, Oxfam Cymru, Chwarae Teg and Save the Children.

Start date:  1st April 2016   End date: 30th September 2016

Key Ouputs

Fair Pay: a Living Wage Wales

LW Wales

This report sets out how a step-change in the number of people earning at least the Living Wage in Wales can be achieved.  We recommend that the aim should be to reduce the proportion of people earning less than the Living Wage to the UK average (excluding London) within five years – requiring a cut of about 6,000 people a year.

This should be accompanied by:

  • a robust strategy which mixes ‘quick wins’ such as employers who are ‘natural sympathisers’ with sectoral approaches where low pay is widespread;
  • using tactics that work – especially employer-to-employer messages and development of a Living Wage ‘movement’;
  • local and Wales-wide policy and legislation to encourage employers to pay the Living Wage; and,
  • a dedicated resource to champion and support the Living Wage, which brings together Welsh Government, trade unions, employer representatives and other campaigners.

To download the report, click here.

Fair Pay: a Living Wage Cardiff Capital Region

This report sets out how a step change in the number of people earning the Living Wage in the Cardiff CapitaLW CCRl Region could be achieved. It outlines what the Living Wage is, who the region’s low paid workers are, the business, social and economic benefits and risks of paying it, and sets out a strategy for change.

Our recommendations on how a step change can be brought about include:

  • An achievable target of around 3,000 jobs a year to be uprated to the Living Wage, with an aim of matching the out-of-London Living Wage rate within three years.
  • A dedicated resource which promotes the Living Wage in the region and assists employers with accreditation.
  • Local initiatives to support the Living Wage.
  • The use of public procurement to increase take up.

Click here to download this report.

Living Wage Summit

On Friday 8th July 2016 the Bevan Foundation hosted a Living Wage Summit at Cardiff City Hall. Delegates heard from Anne Callaghan, who manages the Scottish Living Wage Programme, and Mick Antoniw AM, as well as a range of employers, trade unions and other campaigners as part of panel discussions on different aspects of the Living Wage in Wales.

Check out our Storify story to find out more about the summit.

Sign up to our free monthly e-newsletter to keep up to date with activities and outputs from our projects.



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