Living Wage in Wales

History of the living wage

The Living Wage was born from a simple idea – that all working families need, and deserve, a wage that covers the cost of living and meets every day needs. Twenty years ago, in East London, many workers found this was not the case.

The Living Wage movement began at a meeting in East London in 2001, when Citizens UK brought together faith organisations, schools, trade unions and other local institutions to talk about the issues affecting their communities. One issue came up time and time again – low pay.

In 2011 the movement went national. The first UK Living Wage rate was launched, and the Living Wage Foundation was set up to recognise and celebrate the businesses that choose to go further than the government minimum.

Read more about the history and development of the Living Wage in the UK on the Living Wage Foundation website.

The Living Wage in wales

The first employers in Wales chose to accredit in 2012, and the Living Wage campaign took off here as part of the founding of Citizens Cymru Wales, the national home of community organising. The campaign made swift progress, focusing on large employers based in the capital, including Cardiff Council, Cardiff University and Welsh Government.

While the Living Wage campaign had growing support in Wales, and thousands of workers had received a pay rise, there were still under a hundred accredited Living Wage employers and a fifth of Welsh workers languished in in-work poverty. So, in 2016 Citizens Cymru Wales set out an ambition to make Wales a ‘Living Wage Economy’, based around a commitment to the methodology, rate and accreditation scheme run by the Living Wage Foundation, the promotion of a new ‘Living Wage for Wales / Cyflog Byw i Gymru’ brand, and an aspiration to achieve parity with Scotland in terms of number of accredited Living Wage employers.

Citizens Cymru Wales initiated three new developments to support this ambition:


Asking Welsh Government to use its influence to encourage Living Wage accreditation


Establishing the Living Wage for Wales Leadership Team to develop a collaborative strategy and co-ordinate the growing number of organisations who had joined the campaign


Encouraging the Living Wage Foundation to appoint a Living Wage Accreditation Partner based in Wales to boost support for employers interested in accreditation

Since May 2016, Citizens Cymru Wales has met with the First Minister of Wales annually to review progress on the spread of Living Wage accreditation in Wales – which has led to increasing numbers of public sector accreditations, most notably all Welsh universities. The First Minister announces the new Living Wage for Wales rate in Living Wage Week each November.

Since November 2016, Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales has been the Living Wage Foundation’s official accreditation partner in Wales, and has been very successful in supporting employers to accredit, increasing the number of accreditations to over 550.

Meanwhile, the Living Wage for Wales Leadership Team has met quarterly and has collaborated on planning for Living Wage Week in November each year, as well as strategic interventions linked to the social care sector and the Fair Work agenda.

Key milestones in Wales

2012 - first accredited Living Wage employer in Wales 


Citizens Cymru Wales launched the Living Wage campaign.


Citizens Cymru Wales announced its ambition to make Wales a Living Wage economy

Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales became the official accreditation body for the real Living Wage in Wales


6,000 workers in Wales now benefit from the Real Living Wage, putting an extra £15 million into the back pockets of low-paid workers.

6,000 workers now benefit from the Real Living Wage


Cardiff becomes first major urban area in the UK to receive Living Wage City status

Fair Work Commission publishes Fair Work in Wales report, underlining the real Living Wage as a key element of the definition of Fair Work


All universities in Wales are Living Wage accredited, Cardiff & Vale University Health Board is the first Health Board in Wales to accredit.


The Wales Millennium Centre becomes the 300th Living Wage Employer in Wales, contributing to an uplift of 11,750 employees in Wales.

Citizens Cymru Wales announces phase 2 of its ambition to make Wales a Living Wage economy, focusing on local government, health boards and the social care sector.

300th Living Wage Employer, contributing to an uplift of 11,750 employees

2022 - Bridgend Council become second Local Authority to accredit in Wales


Urdd Gobaith Cymru becomes the 500th Living Wage Employer in Wales.

Cardiff as a Living Wage City reaches 200 accreditations.



Rhondda Cynon Taf become third Local Authority to accredit.



Wild Thing cafe delivering food during lockdown

A more equal wales

The campaign for a Living Wage has shown the power of workers and communities organising together to have their voices heard. It shows the effectiveness of civil society working together with business. As we recover from COVID-19 and transition to a low carbon economy, we have an opportunity to create a more equal Wales, where every worker receives a Living Wage and fair jobs are the norm.

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