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3.7 million people earning less than the real living wage, research reveals

The Living Wage Foundation report finds millions are ‘unable to get the hours and the pay they need to meet their everyday needs’

MILLIONS of workers are trapped in low-paid and insecure work, often receiving less than 24 hours’ notice of their shifts, damning new research reveals.

The Living Wage Foundation said its analysis of official figures showed that about 3.7 million people earn less than the voluntary real living wage, with those in that category being more likely to have lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Almost half of insecure, poorly paid workers were off work, mainly due to being furloughed, at the height of the crisis, compared with less than 20 per cent of other workers, the data suggests.

Of those earning below the real living wage — £10.85 in hour in London and £9.50 elsewhere — 12 per cent received less than 24 hours’ notice for their working hours, shifts or schedules, while half were given less than a week’s notice, the report indicates.

The study shows that 40 per cent were hit by shifts being unexpectedly cancelled and, of those, 28 per cent received no pay.

People aged over 70 are most likely to be in precarious work, followed by 16 to 19-year-olds, the foundation said. 

Director Graham Griffiths said millions of workers are “unable to get the hours and the pay they need to meet their everyday needs, with many families struggling to keep their heads above water.

“Over the past year, this problem has been exacerbated, with many low-paid workers in insecure jobs also more likely to lose work.

“There is a real danger that as we look to recover, we fail to recognise the vital need for an economy built on jobs with decent pay and secure hours.

“This is what we need for a modern, dynamic economy that delivers stability to workers, families and businesses.”

In the week when Labour launched its “new deal for working people,” deputy party leader Angela Rayner said that the scourge of insecure work and poverty wages proves that Britain’s economic model is broken.

“A job should provide security, dignity and a proper wage that you can support your family on,” she stressed.

“Labour will deliver an immediate living wage of at least £10 an hour, end insecure work and zero-hours contracts by creating a single status of ‘worker’ and give all workers full rights from day one on the job.”

The official minimum wage is currently set at £8.91 for adults aged 23 and over. 

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