Majority of businesses pay, or aspire to pay, living wage

11th February 2014

Commenting on the interim report from the Living Wage Commission, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: -Making ends meet is clearly an issue of huge concern to many in Britain today.

And we applaud all of those businesses that pay, or aspire to pay, their staff above the Living Wage. That includes a huge majority of Chamber of Commerce members, with 61% paying all staff at or above the Living Wage, and a further 20% paying most staff above the Living Wage rate. -Yet many businesses tell us that there is a limit to what they can afford. Sixty percent of companies say that at present, the National Minimum Wage should rise but by no more than inflation, so as to avoid pressure to raise pay across all levels of a business. Prudent rises in the Minimum Wage, and praise for those businesses that aspire to a Living Wage, is the right way to preserve jobs. -There is no doubt that there has been an increase in disparity between top earners and the low-paid. There has also been an alarming diminution of social mobility. However, this is not a phenomenon born during the recent recession, but a trend that has been developing over decades. -The problems underlying low pay will not be solved by simply driving up wages and adding cost to the economy. Time after time, and in country after country, outcomes show that the best way to raise pay is through better education and training, in schools, universities and the workplace. We are a knowledge-based economy, and this is where our future lies. "It is also wrong to pile higher wage costs on employers, who produce the wealth that is essential to our country and our people particularly when the government continues to tax low earners. Britain shouldn't aspire to be a low pay, low skills economy. It should aim to be a high pay, high skills economy. As difficult as it may be, that means improving the education system and encouraging companies to invest much more in training their workers before asking them to consider huge wage increases.

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