1 October 2015

Today the minimum wage goes up by 20p to £6.70 an hour for those aged twenty one and over. That is well below the real living wage*, currently £7.85 an hour in Cornwall and elsewhere outside London, but nevertheless a welcome move in a progressive direction. The minimum wage was introduced by Labour in 1999 and has improved life for very many low paid workers. Next month a new real living wage rate will be announced.

Today’s rise comes shortly after Morrisons, the supermarket, announced it was to pay its workers a minimum of £8.20 an hour from March 2016, though with some loss of pay perks. Lidl had announced a rise to £8.20 an hour from this month.

This spring Cornwall Council began paying the living wage to its direct employees. Slowly, very slowly, we are becoming a real living wage county. I’ve noted the heroes in other posts and here note and praise Mother Ivey’s Bay and St Merryn holiday parks as living wage employers.

What is happening is that pioneers in various sectors – retail supermarkets, holiday businesses, care homes , local government, banks, insurance – are showing that paying decent wages is possible across the economy. There are still employers to persuade; there are still on-board companies with off-board contractors.

Oh, that asterisk * on the first line. By living wage I mean that determined after research by the Centre for research in social policy (CRSP) at Loughborough University and Living Wage Foundation, the real living wage. Not George Osborne’s “national living wage” which is currently less, will apply only to those aged twenty five and over, and is misleadingly named.