The new UK voluntary Living Wage rate has been set at £9.50, a 20p increase on last year, and 78p per hour more than the current minimum wage for over 25s.
The Living Wage Foundation, which calculates the rate based on the cost of living, made the announcement ahead of the start of Living Wage Week, which commences today.
The London Living Wage has been set at £10.85, a 10p increase on last year, and £2.13 per hour higher than the minimum wage for over 25s.
The announcement comes as new research by the Living Wage Foundation has demonstrated the scale of low pay during the pandemic, with 5.5 million jobs (20.3% of employee jobs) still paying less than the real Living Wage.
Northern Ireland had the highest proportion of jobs paying below the Living Wage (25.3%) and Scotland the lowest (15.2%).
Laura Gardiner, Living Wage Foundation Director, said: “It’s an incredibly challenging time for us all, but today’s new Living Wage rates will give a boost to hundreds of thousands of UK workers, including thousands of key and essential workers like cleaners, care workers, and delivery drivers who have kept our economy going.
“Since the start of the pandemic employers have continued to sign up to a real Living Wage. During Living Wage Week its right that we celebrate those employers that have done right by workers and families, providing them with much needed security and stability even when times are hard. These are the employers that will allow us to recover and rebuild from this crisis.”
Research conducted by Cardiff Business School has demonstrated the significant impact of the Living Wage campaign since the start of the pandemic.
Over 250,000 workers have benefitted from an additional £200 million since the start of lockdown, including 130,000 key workers. Since 2011, over £1.3bn in extra wages has gone to workers and families through the Living Wage.
Over 800 more employers have accredited with the Living Wage Foundation since the start of the pandemic, with new names including Connected Health, the first Living Wage care provider in Northern Ireland.
The Living Wage Foundation will champion the social care sector and key workers during this year’s Living Wage Week.
The campaign will share stories of how providers accredited by the foundation have implemented the Living Wage and how it has benefited their staff and services.
But trade union Unison said the Living Wage increase leaves many thousands of health and care staff behind.
“While some 250,000 low-paid workers will get a wage rise today, many others on the COVID frontline will be less fortunate.
“Care staff working in homes and out in the community remain stuck on poverty pay, despite vital work supporting society’s most vulnerable throughout the pandemic.
“It’s time the government did the right thing and gave a well-earned pay rise to all those caring for us and keeping us safe while the virus rages.
“That’s the best way of thanking them all for everything they do and protecting our vital public services.”