'Living Wage' shock as London workers hit poverty line

PUBLISHED: 11:39 17 October 2012

One in five jobs pays less than the London Living Wage, according to research carried out in London's deprived East End.

There are now 580,000 London workers on ‘poverty wages’, shock findings by the University of London’s Queen Mary College has uncovered.

The current minimum hourly wage is £6.19 an hour—but campaigners are pressing for £8.30 to cover the basic cost of living.

The research for the Trust for London charity, led by Prof Jane Wills at Queen Mary’s School of Geography, shows the government could save £1bn a year if all London workers got the Living Wage—increased income tax would reduce welfare payments.

“Poverty levels have grown, making a living wage more important than ever,” said Prof Wills. “Businesses that have introduced the wage have a 25 per cent fall in staff leaving, with better industrial relations as a result.”

Companies interviewed for the study also reported that a living wage ‘corporate social responsibility’ attracted high calibre graduate recruits.

The original ‘Living Wage’ campaign began in the East End when Telco, The East London Community Organisation, persuaded banks in Canary Wharf eight years ago to improve rates for their cleaners and maintenance staff. It soon spread to other industries.

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