Readers, surveys carried out by The Independent recently showed that not a single known high street chain in the UK has signed up to a living wage pledge, and nor are those companies paying all of their staff a living wage (£9.15 per hour in London, £7.85 per hour elsewhere). However, smaller retailers are paying living wages, highlighting the importance of small, local companies and cooperatives in Britain's economic future, as opposed to large, parasitic, overbearing corporations and chain stores.
Increasing living costs coupled with stagnating wages mean that year by year, thousands more workers end up struggling to meet basic needs because their wages are not high enough to reliably cover rent, energy, household, food, and transport bills. This also means they are unable to contribute effectively to local economies, meaning that when wages stagnate and when living costs rise, local jobs are put at risk.
How does a living wage benefit everyone, from workers to leaders, whether rich or poor?
1. A living wage (as opposed to a minimum wage) will mean that everyone who earns it has enough to survive and meet basic needs without any trouble. Not only will people earning a living wage be able to provide more for their family and friends, they will also be less stressed and thus more productive and positive in their daily lives. It will also mean weekly working hours can be reduced, which in turn can reduce unemployment whilst still meaning we can be productive nationally.
2. A living wage would benefit local businesses, which will protect local industries because more people are then able to buy locally and support their towns and cities. This will in turn reduce transport costs, reduce the need for imported food and drink, strengthen community spirit, and thus help us transition to a more sustainable economy more easily.
3. A living wage would mean that the national bill for tax credits and housing benefit would be substantially reduced (if not eliminated altogether), meaning that those in need could get better help, and it will also increase tax revenue, meaning that we will all benefit, as long as resources are distributed fairly.
4. A living wage can be achieved if a fair wage gap is introduced and enforced, and if employers stop taking pay rises they do not need when they are already earning enough-and without costing any jobs (it will in fact increase employment levels in the long term).