What is the real Living Wage?

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The only UK rate based on living costs

The real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is voluntarily paid by over 14,000 UK businesses who believe their staff deserve a wage which meets everyday needs – like the weekly shop and the cost of clothing and shoes.

There are over 14,000 accredited employers in the UK and over 550 of those are in Wales.

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UK Rate


Who benefits?

22,000+ employees in Wales have received a pay rise because of the Living Wage campaign and we enjoy cross-party support. We have a broad range of employers accredited with the Foundation including well-known Welsh institutions such as Welsh Government, Cardiff Council, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, all Welsh Universities, Dŵr Cymru, Redrow, Wales Millennium Centre and Transport for Wales.

There are also hundreds of SMEs accredited as a part of our movement of employers committed to the Real Living Wage.

How is it calculated?

  • The rate is recalculated annually to account for the true cost of living and announced every November.
  • Employers should implement the rise as soon as possible and within 6 months.
  • All employees should receive the new rate by the following May.

In 2023, the current rate was announced in October. However, accredited employers will still have until 1st May 2024 to pay the new rate of £12. 

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Organisations that pay the Living Wage have reported significant improvements in quality of work, reductions in staff absence and turnover, and a stronger corporate reputation.

Explaining the UK wage rates

The Real Living Wage is the only rate in the UK which is calculated according to the cost of living and to include anybody over the age of 18.

In April 2016 the government introduced a higher minimum wage rate for all staff over 25 years of age inspired by the Living Wage campaign – even calling it the ‘national living wage’.

However, this wage is not calculated according to what employees and their families need to live. Instead, it is based on a target to reach 66% of median earnings by 2024. Under current forecasts this means a rise to £10.50 per hour by 2024 and from 2021 was adjusted to include those over 23 years old. The government minimum takes into account what is affordable for businesses.

The real Living Wage rates are higher because they are independently-calculated based on what people need to get by. That’s why we encourage all employers that can afford to do so to ensure their employees earn a wage that meets the costs of living, not just the government minimum.

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