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Thursday 19th September 2019

Why you can’t live on the National Living Wage

The National Living Wage is not a wage you can live on, says Maddy

In an age of spiralling rents, soaring food costs, and out of control energy prices, living is increasingly expensive. In 1999, Tony Blair’s government introduced the minimum wage– all workers over the age of 22 had to receive no less than £3.60 an hour for their labour.

At the time, this was a significant step towards combatting poverty- however, the minimum wage has failed to keep up with inflation. The term ‘working poverty’ has been coined to describe the plight of many families undergoing various levels of poverty- 60% of whom are shockingly in full time work. Despite this, our Prime Minister seems as unsympathetic as ever- her government chanting the same old tired mantra: “Work remains the best route out of poverty”.

The National Living Wage

In April 2016, George Osborne’s flagship ‘National Living Wage’ policy was introduced. It was a very conscious effort to pervert the associations to an idea that you can now live off the minimum wage. An idea which has been echoed by countless Tory voters. The National Living Wage, and the real living wage are two quite different things. The National living wage is, as I write this, currently £7.50 per hour for an adult over the age of 25- when George Osborne first proposed it, he also proposed that it would rise to £9 an hour by 2020- this plan has since been scrapped.

The [real] Living Wage

The real living wage is something quite different. The Living Wage Foundation is an impartial body that was set up in 2005, based upon a set of principles, and ideas that paying a decent wage is good for business. When people are happier, and feel more financially secure, they are more likely to be invested in the job and work harder. As the old saying goes ‘you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.’ The real living wage is currently set at £8.45 for people living out of London, and £9.75 within London. That’s a difference of £0.95, and £1.25 an hour from the government’s ‘National Living Wage’, respectively.

The Government’s decision to rebrand the minimum wage is a textbook Orwellian strategy.

What does ‘Orwellian’ mean?

A lot of people have the misguided belief that the term ‘Orwellian’ refers to an authoritarian government. ‘Big Brother is watching you’, if you will. However, what Orwellian actually refers to is the manipulation/misuse of language in order to control the population. You can watch an excellent video on it here.

In an age of increasing austerity, and where more and more employers are choosing to pay the minimum wage, those who have chosen to put their workers first and pay the actual living wage need to be commended. The Living Wage Foundation has made a list of these wonderful companies available on their site, here.

Photo by Niels Steeman on Unsplash

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Maddy Sutherland

Maddy Sutherland

Maddy is a freelance illustrator who lives in Glasgow. She's recently graduated and is working hard to make ends meet. Self-employed? Read Maddy's experiences here.

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