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 9,000 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 9000 accredited employers in the UK and over 400 of those are in Wales.

Map of Wales

UK Rate


Who benefits?

14,653 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 2021, the new rate was announced on November 15th. So, all accredited employers should be paying the rate of £9.90 by 15th May 2022.

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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.

The minimum wage

Government minimum for under 23s


  • Statutory
  • 21 and Older
  • Negotiated settlement based on recommendations from businesses and trade unions
  • No London Weighting

National Living Wage

Government minimum for over 23s


  • Statutory
  • 23 and Older
  • A % of medium earnings, it aims to reach 66% of median earnings by 2024
  • No London Weighting

Real Living Wage

The only wage rate based on what people need to live

£9.90 across the UK

£11.05 in London

  • Voluntary
  • 18 and Older
  • Calculation made according to the cost of living, based on a basket of household goods and services
  • Separate higher rate for London