30 March 2016, The Tablet

Archbishop Sentamu: Government’s living wage will keep people in poverty

The new pay standard is due to come into force at the beginning of April

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has denounced the Government’s living wage, warning that it will leave working people in poverty.

Speaking days before the new pay standard is due to come into force the Archbishop said the Government's "living wage” was "spin" and only increased minimum pay slightly.

The Government’s living wage, at £7.20 per hour, with no London weighting, is just 50p per hour more than the national minimum wage, unlike the recommended figure proposed by anti-poverty campaigners Living Wage Foundation, which bases its suggestion of £8.25 per hour (£9.40 in London) on the cost of living.

“It is not paying workers what they deserve or need to achieve a decent standard of living in the UK,” Mr Sentamu wrote in The Times today. “Let’s think about: working people should not have to rely on food banks to feed their families,” he argued.

He also warned that the Government’s living wage would set young against old, stating that two million under-25s would not benefit from the increase.

The new wage will only apply to workers aged 25 and over: 18 to 20 year olds will still be paid a minimum wage of £5.30 per hour, and under 18s £3.87.

“Businesses have an important role to play in society. Paying the living wage is a fast route to the kind of society the UK could become, a country where people are paid a fair day’s wage for a hard day’s work. No spin necessary,” he concluded.

In July 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the UK Government will introduce a compulsory minimum wage premium for all staff over-25 years of age, and referred to it as the ‘national living wage’. 

The government rate is separate and lower than the rate calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, which bases its figure on what it believes is an above-poverty standard of living rather than on median earnings.

Both the Catholic Church and the Church of England have publicly committed to the Living Wage set set by the foundation.

The government rate will be introduced in April 2016 at the start of the new financial year.



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