Currently, the national minimum wage is £6.50 per hour—a stark difference from London’s Living Wage of £9.15 an hour. The rest of the country’s £7.85 per hour living wage, is also significantly ahead of the minimum wage.
The current Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who is currently chair of the Living Wage Commission, has pointed out how some businesses have yet to implement the Living Wage into their compensation system, and because of this, a lot of workers are struggling to survive.
He made it clear at the conference that employers need to stop holding on so tight to their money.
“Most businesses, sorry to say, they can afford to pay the living wage and they should just get on with it,” Sentamu said.
He also mentioned how the minimum wage was a step in the right direction to improve Britain’s economy after it was hit hard by the recession, but now a recent study proves that many workers around the region are still suffering from poverty.
Research group KPMG determined that 5.28 million British workers were paid less than the Living Wage in 2014. Within the last year, this number has increased by 21 percent (147,000 people).
This wage difference mainly affects women, part-time workers, and younger employees. Most were stuck making less than £7.65 an hour.
The commission’s main goal is to adopt a living wage where workers can start earning above a low paying salary.
According to Sentamu, a free market economy—a system in which prices for goods and services are established freely through an agreement between sellers and consumers—is to blame.
The biggest flaw of a free market economy is the division it creates among a diverse group of working citizens, he says.
Overall, it doesn’t fight for the common good of each and every diligent worker.
"While the system gives individuals the power of choice and allows for stimulation of innovation, free market economies have no mechanisms to reduce the disparities between the ’haves’ and have nots’,” Sentamu asserted.
Additionally, a discrepancy in Britain’s workforce salary rates damages the economy on a financial level.
The archbishop claims that public finances are limited right now and a demand to supplement the incomes of low paid workers is sucking a lot of energy out of the economy.
Since more than a fifth of workers do not have spending powers, it eventually hurts businesses and local markets, causing more inequality and poorer circumstances among those involved.
In order for everyone to benefit financially, Sentamu urges businesses to do their part by compensating workers with the hourly wage they deserve. This would ensure that society is developing to its fullest potential.
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