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Most British consumers would consciously back living wage-verified businesses

4 min read

27 April 2015

Former deputy editor

The living wage debate continues and, while British workers may be in favour of the campaign, a study has found that awareness and support of the living wage among UK adults overall have grown in less than a year.

Professional services firm KPMG is behind the research that found 80 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of 16-17 year olds in the UK have now heard of the living wage, which is set at a nationwide average of £7.85.

Demonstrating the campaign’s power, a majority 70 per cent of British adults said they would consciously shop with a living wage-verified retailer, which is up by ten per cent in under a year.

The sentiment wasn’t shared with younger people, however, as 18-24 year olds were least likely to shop with the living wage in mind  – 40 per cent said they would  prioritise cheaper goods ahead of the staff impact.

Mike Kelly, head of Living Wage at KPMG UK, said: “It’s clear from the poll that ensuring the lowest paid in society are treated fairly should be near the top of the agenda for government and for employers alike. With all the main political parties’ citing action on Living Wage in their manifestos, we have moved a long way since the 2010 election and the pace of change is accelerating. 

“With nearly a quarter of the FTSE 100 now accredited more and more employers are reaping the benefit of joining this movement. The next big challenge will be to educate our employees, customers, suppliers and clients about the range of enterprises who are accredited so that they too can exercise informed choice.”

Read more on the living wage:

David Cameron took part in an interview with young voters on BBC’s Radio 1 on 22 April, and the subject of the living wage came up. Asked by one caller if it was time to introduce a living wage, the prime minister came under fire for failing to answer how much the living wage is. 

He was also challenged on the purpose of a £6.50 minimum wage is if it’s not enough to live and quizzed whether he would be able to support his family on the sum. Although he said he’s in favour of the living wage and described it as a “good campaign”, he added “I don’t want the minimum wage to go up at a rate at which unemployment would go up.

Ahead of the general election on 7 May, results showed that manual workers and students are the most eager to escape poverty as a third said its the biggest issue for the next government to face.

KPMG’s findings also revealed 70 per cent of adult women and 60 per cent of adult men believe the reason some people in UK are living in poverty is because employers aren’t paying enough.

Broken down by region, Northern Ireland 27 per cent of earners being paid below the living wage, but it also has the lowest awareness level across the UK. Scotland, meanwhile, was the most aware region.

Rhys Moore, director of Living Wage Foundation, said: “The Living Wage is no longer a neutral debate, and the momentum is growing fast, with the number of accredited business now at over 1,400. With 80 per cent of adults and 60 per cent of 16-17 year olds having heard of the Living Wage it is now squarely main stream thanks in part to the leadership of enlightened employers.”

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