Locals struggle to cover the cost of living

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Earners in the North West that earn below living wage is higher than the national average. © JMU Journalism

Workers in the North West that earn below living wage is higher than the national average. © JMU Journalism

Just under 25% of people living in the North West do not earn enough to cover the costs of living, according to new research.

The report, published by KPMG, who provide audit, tax & advisory services, comes on the same day that the UK Living Wage rose by 20p to £7.85. The figure is an hourly rate based on the amount needed to cover the basic household expenditure.

The report shows that 611,000 people within the region earn an income lower than living wage, which is 2% higher than the national average.

Mike Kelly, Head of Living Wage at KPMG, said: “Although there are almost 1,000 organisations pledged to pay a Living Wage, far too many UK employees are stuck in the spiral of low pay.

“With the cost of living still high, the squeeze on household finances remains acute, meaning that the reality for many is that they are forced to live hand to mouth.”

Businesses who pledge to pay their employees the recommended rate are accredited by the Living Wage Foundation and the amount of employers who do so has doubled in the last 12 months. The City of Liverpool YMCA and Sefton Credit Union are among these employers.

JMU Journalism TV report by Richard Eves

Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, however, has warned that businesses that cannot afford to pay the living wage rate should not be demonised.

Paul Cherpeau, Head of Business Engagement at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, told JMU Journalism: “We believe adoption should be voluntary and celebrated as good practice and exemplars of positive employer care.

“Paying the living wage should be an aspiration for business. It is a powerful message demonstrating in tangible form the value a company has for its employees and contributing to its corporate social responsibility. Yet imposing living wage as a minimum standard for employers is not the appropriate solution.”

Inflation rates in the UK fell to 1.2% in September, the lowest figure since 2009, but today’s 20 pence rise in Living Wage rate exceeds the current minimum wage of £6.50 per hour by 21%. The report also suggests that those in part-time work are affected more than those in full-time positions.

About Josh Handscomb, JMU Journalism