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ONE in four low-paid workers has had to skip meals regularly since the start of the pandemic, a new study suggests.
A survey of 2,000 workers earning below the real living wage also indicated that half had suffered a negative impact on their level of anxiety.
The Living Wage Foundation’s research found that two thirds of people earning less than the real living wage — estimated at £9.50 outside London and £10.85 in the capital — had seen their pay fall over the past year as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Almost one in three respondents said they had fallen behind with household bills in the past year, a similar number were forced to skip meals for financial reasons and one in five could not afford to heat their home.
Living Wage Foundation director Laura Gardiner said: “We’ve long known that low pay leads to financial insecurity, but our analysis shows the much broader and more pernicious effects of low wages on workers and their families.
“The fact that many low earners, including essential workers who’ve kept the economy going through the pandemic, are forced to skip meals or forgo heating their homes is unacceptable.
“As the vaccine is rolled out and we inch back to some sense of normality, it’s clear ‘business as usual’ isn’t an option.
“To recover and rebuild and to truly level up living standards throughout the UK, we will need to see a greater focus on lifting people on to a real living wage that covers the cost of living.”
The real living wage rates are above the statutory minimum of £8.72 an hour for over-25s.
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