First Minister Mark Drakeford Announces Real Living Wage Increase to £9.50 in Wales

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, announces the new Real Living Wage for Wales of £9.50 per hour (up from £9.30 per hour) with accredited employers and campaigners at the Living Wage Week Wales Launch on Monday 9th November.

Over 11,300 workers at 264 accredited employers in Wales are set to benefit from a vital pay boost but Living Wage Foundation research finds that 265,000 (22.4%) workers in Wales are still paid under the Real Living Wage.

Vice Chancellors of Cardiff University and Bangor University celebrate as Wales becomes first nation to achieve Living Wage ‘clean sweep’ in higher education.

Citizens Cymru Wales calls for all Careworkers to be paid the Real Living Wage as Cardiff and Vale University Health Board becomes the first in Wales to accredit as a Living Wage employer.

Over 11,300 people working for 264 real Living Wage Employers are set for a vital pay boost as the new Living Wage rate rises to £9.50 in Wales (20p increase) supporting workers and families through the pandemic. The Living Wage rates are the only rates independently calculated based on what people need to live on. Since 2011 over £41.8m in extra wages has gone to low-paid workers in Wales thanks to the Living Wage campaign, including £6.2m since the start of lockdown. Over 5,400 people in key worker industries in the Wales have benefitted from over £36.2m in extra wages since 2011.

The number of accredited Living Wage Employers in Wales has risen by 25% in the last year to 264, including Natural Resources Wales, Sport Wales, Coffi Co and Sparkles Cleaning Services. Swansea University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Bangor University completed a Living Wage ‘clean sweep’ in higher education – completing a process begun by Cardiff University and making Wales the first nation to achieve this. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board became the first accredited Living Wage Health Board in Wales. The Welsh Local Government Association and a growing number of local councils across Wales are following the example of Cardiff Council in moving towards Living Wage accreditation.

Following recognition as the first major urban area in the UK to become a Living Wage City in November 2019, Cardiff has also achieved two of its three milestone objectives ahead of schedule and the Leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, has worked with Cynnal Cymru, the Living Wage Foundation’s Accreditation Partner in Wales, to produce a video encouraging other local councils to accredit and become ‘Living Wage Places’.

These organisations join a network of nearly 7,000 employers across the UK, including two-fifths of the FTSE 100 companies, household names like Aviva, Nationwide, Burberry, and Brewdog, as well as thousands of small businesses, who are choosing to pay the real Living Wage to ensure all staff earn a wage that meets the real cost of living, and covers everyday needs.

Research conducted by Cardiff Business School has demonstrated the significant impact of the Living Wage campaign across the UK since the start of the pandemic. Over 250,000 workers have benefitted from an additional £200 million since the start of lockdown, including 130,000 key workers. Since 2011 over £1.3bn in extra wages has gone to workers and families through the Living Wage.

The Living Wage for Wales rate is 78p per hour more than the statutory minimum wage for over 25s. A full-time worker in Wales paid the new £9.50 real Living Wage will receive over £1,500 in additional wages annually compared to the current statutory minimum wage.
The announcement comes as new research by the Living Wage Foundation has demonstrated the scale of low pay during the pandemic, with 265,000 jobs in Wales still paying less than the real Living Wage.

Citizens Cymru, the community organising alliance which leads the Living Wage campaign in Wales, is launching a campaign calling for all Careworkers in Wales to be paid the Real Living Wage.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said:

“Today’s announcement of a rise in the Real Living Wage to £9.50 an hour means a significant pay rise for thousands of workers in Wales, many of whom are serving our communities on the frontline during the pandemic.

“Last year in Living Wage Week I urged all public bodies in Wales to work towards Living Wage accreditation. Another eight have done so. I am particularly pleased to see Cardiff and Vale University Health Board becoming the first accredited health board in Wales – I hope to see the other NHS organisations and public bodies joining them this year. For many this will be a journey and we will be with them every step of the way.”

Rachel Ashworth, Dean of Cardiff Business School and Chair of the Living Wage for Wales Leadership Team, said:

“We are making remarkable progress towards our goal of making Wales a Living Wage economy, but almost a quarter of workers in Wales still earn a poverty wage, and that is a big problem. One area in which poverty pay is the norm is social care. We’ve all clapped for careworkers during the pandemic – over this next year we need to make sure that they are paid the Real Living Wage.”

Edel Anabwani, a Careworker from Cardiff and a Leader with Citizens Cymru Wales, said:

“Careworkers like me have heard so much in this pandemic. We’ve heard the clapping and we’ve heard people saying how vital our work is. What we haven’t heard is when careworkers like us can expect to be paid the Real Living Wage. The public think we’re worth the money, and we think that most politicians agree. Citizens Cymru Wales is launching a campaign to build a cross-party consensus to make sure careworkers get paid at least the Real Living Wage by Living Wage Week in 2021.”

Sarah Hopkins, Director of Cynnal Cymru, the Living Wage Foundation’s Accreditation Partner in Wales, said:

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic we continue to see significant growth in Living Wage accreditations in Wales – with 56 new employers signed up in the last year and 5,000 employees benefiting from a poverty-busting payrise. Only Scotland and London have a higher proportion rate of accredited employers, and we are encouraging more employers in Wales to work with us to achieve Living Wage accreditation.”

Charles Janczewski, Chair of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said:

“As one of the largest employers across south east Wales, we felt very strongly it was important to do the right thing and offer our staff the Living Wage. Many of our staff live in some of the most deprived communities in Wales and we know the connection between economic prosperity is one of the key determinants of good mental health. Particularly during these tough economic times it is good to put some additional money into the pockets of our lowest paid NHS staff and hopefully this will help their family budget go a little bit further each week. By offering the Living Wage it puts us in a good position to retain good staff, many of them in vital roles across the Health Board that enable us to keep services open and operational. I am pleased that we now offer all of our staff the Living Wage as of 1 April 2020.”

Professor Iwan Davies, Vice Chancellor of Bangor University, said:

“We are proud to have helped Wales complete a Living Wage clean sweep in higher education. Living Wage accreditation is important to us as a major employer in the region.”

Laura Gardiner, Living Wage Foundation Director, 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 workers in Wales, including thousands of key and essential workers like cleaners, care workers, delivery drivers, and supermarket staff, who have kept our economy going.

“Since the start of the pandemic employers have continued to sign up to a real Living Wage. During Living Wage Week it’s right that we celebrate those employers that have done right by workers and families, providing them with much needed security and stability even when times are hard. These are the employers that will allow us to recover and rebuild from this crisis.”

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