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Living Wage reaches £1bn milestone

24 September 2019

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The campaign for a real Living Wage has given more than £1 billion in extra wages to workers since 2001 according to figures calculated by Cardiff University researchers.

Released by the Living Wage Foundation on 28 August 2019, the regional breakdown highlights the campaign’s impact through the number of Living Wage employers across the UK and the additional wages paid due to their commitment to the campaign.

Calculated by Professor Ed Heery, Dr Deborah Hann and Dr David Nash from Cardiff Business School, the figures are part of an ongoing research project on the real Living Wage which, over a four year period, has seen them measure the business benefits and employee impact of accreditation.

David Nash commented: “What our research shows is that the real Living Wage has had a significant impact on raising the pay of workers in accredited organisations, which are found in all regions of the UK across the full range of economic activity. The figures demonstrate the importance of the Living Wage campaign to combatting the problem of low pay in the UK.”

Regional Breakdown


Additional wages paid due to the Living Wage

Number of Living Wage employers




South East



South West









East Midlands



West Midlands



Yorkshire and the Humber



North East



North West



East England



Commit to pay

The campaign for a London Living Wage began in East London, where cleaners working in the City worked multiple jobs and long hours on the minimum wage and were struggling to keep their heads above water.

With support from community organisers Citizens UK, workers began a Living Wage campaign, calling on organisations in East London to commit to pay all their workers, including outsourced and contract workers, a real Living Wage that covered the cost of living.  Since then the campaign has won over £1bn of additional wages and lifted over 200,000 people out of working poverty.

In 2011 the Living Wage Foundation was established to campaign for a Living Wage throughout the UK.  Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “We talk to workers everyday who tell us the difference a real Living Wage has made to them. Some have been able to cut back on overtime so they can get home to see their children before bedtime. For others it's meant they no longer have to choose between heating their home or putting food on the table. This really matters - Over a third of working parents on low pay have skipped meals due to a lack of money, and almost a quarter believe low pay has negatively affected their relationship with their children.

“The success of the Living Wage is testament to the leadership of over 5,500 businesses across the UK, who continue to recognise the importance of a wage that truly covers the cost of living. Living Wage employers understand the value that a decent wage provides to workers and their families, as well as to businesses through improved motivation and productivity.”

The Living Wage is the UK’s only independently calculated wage rate based on what people need to get by. The rate covers all essential items such as housing costs, food, transport and childcare, as well as important purchases such as a winter coat for children.

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A two page document outlining the main points of this research project.