Monday, May 27News For London

Retail workers feel supported as more UK employers pay real living wage

Retail workers across UK will enjoy a wallet boost as “real living wage” is increased. 

The lowest paid staff working in retail and hospitality, care, security etc, will have their minimum hourly pay increased to £10.85 in London and to £9.50 across the rest of the UK.

The rises were announced by the Living Wage Foundation to mark Living Wage Week, which fell between 9-15 November this year. 

More than 250,000 employees at nearly seven thousand accredited firms will benefit from an extra £1,500 a year from this increase.

The real living wage is paid by employers voluntarily and is based on the amount of cash people require to cover their day-to-day needs. 

Announcing the rise, Laura Gardiner, Director, Living Wage Foundation 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.”

As a university student, I would like to have some extra money when I move away from halls. I feel the real living wage would allow me to live comfortably without having to ration my income.


London workers employed in retail and hospitality tell Westminster World what they know about the real living wage and its impact on their lives. 

Richard Rainsford, 36, an employee at Sainsburys said: “Managing money is quite stressful when you’re on a low-income wage, so anything that reduces the stress is important. Personally, I feel we have been supported quite well within the retail industry during the current times.”

Jo Cosgrove, 22, currently a student at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “I didn’t know about the real living wage until someone told me about it. I’ve had a few different jobs in a few different stores over time, a decent increase in the wages is definitely something that will convince me to go back to retail.”

Cosgrove added: “As a university student, I would like to have some extra money when I move away from halls. I feel the real living wage would allow me to live comfortably without having to ration my income.”

How does the real living wage differ from the national living wage?

  • National Living Wage is the government’s minimum rate which employers are allowed to pay employees aged 25 or over for each hour worked.
  • Introduced by Tony Blair’s New Labour government in 1999 and originally called National Minimum Wage.
  • It is decided by the government and employers are law-bound to pay it, while Real Living Wage is voluntary with no legal obligation.

Alessandra Cogoni, 26, Brand Ambassador, Botega Veneta said: “Having equal salary for everyone would be amazing. People in certain industries like retail and hospitality are definitely underpaid.”

She added: “I work in highstreet fashion, and I feel people are often not paid enough when you consider the amount of work they do. The government and employers should make sure that these employees are treated well and paid well.”

Retail workers in UK tell us how real living wage can help them (Image- Megapixi.Interviews -Malvika. Edited by Mengqi)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, an additional eight hundred employers have signed up for the real living wage, with more expected join in the future. 

A recent survey carried out by the foundation alongside the Cardiff Business School, found that 93 percent of SMEs gained as a business after starting to pay their employees the real living wage, and that an impressive 86 percent reported a rise in their reputation as an employer. A further 78 percent of employers reported higher staff motivation and more than half reported improved recruitment and retention since accreditation.

In short, paying your employees the real living wage is a win-win situation for the employees and the business.

Malvika Padin – Interviews, Copy/ Mengqi Wang – Audio Editing/Sub-editing – Leanne Tan