1 in 5 London workers paid below ‘living wage’

As many as 21 per cent of London workers – 625,000 people in total – are paid below the London 'living wage', according to researchers at the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion.

Their report, published by the Trust for London charity, explores the extent of low-paid work in the capital, the barriers to progression, ‘what works’ in supporting progression, and how policy and delivery could be improved in the future.

Key findings

  • 21 per cent of London workers are paid below the London living wage (currently set at £8.55 an hour). This compares with 25 per cent of workers outside London who are paid below the national rate of £7.45 an hour.
  • Overall, those in London who start in low pay see their hourly wage grow more quickly than the population as a whole. But 28 per cent of those on low pay in London, and 33 per cent of those on low pay nationwide, see annual increases in hourly pay of less than the national median.
  • 571,000 Londoners (14 per cent of the non-student population) and 5.4 million people across the UK as a whole (17 per cent) have been stuck on low pay for at least a year. A further 1.2 million people nationally, 164,000 of them in London, might be at risk of 'cycling' between work and low pay.
  • There were 14 occupations in London where a majority of staff were paid below the living wage, with all but two seeing below-average pay growth over the past five years. At the same time, employment in these occupations has grown – meaning that low pay appears to be becoming more prevalent, and more entrenched. Low-paid young Londoners are more than twice as likely to see below-average pay rises as low-paid young people in the UK as a whole.
  • Those out of work or in low-paid work recognise the benefits of progression – in terms of salary, confidence, satisfaction, job security and responsibility: but they also see trade-offs around stress and time. Many feel their current employment offers few or no opportunities to progress, and/or does not match their own aspirations.

Source: Tony Wilson, Laura Gardiner and Kris Krasnowski, Low Pay and Career Progression in London and the UK, Trust for London
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Publication date: 
Oct 9 2013