This week we found out that more people are on low pay than ever before. Now 22% of UK workers earn the equivalent to £7.69 an hour according to the Resolution Foundation’s annual audit, Low pay Britain 2014.
This mirrors last week’s report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Pay progression: understanding the barriers for the lowest paid, which found that 24% of UK employees earn less than 20% above the minimum wage – an increase from 15% of UK employees back in the 1990s.
It is a sorry state of affairs that one of the world’s leading countries (by wealth), the UK, should be allowing this expansion of the lowly paid.
The evidence points to the fact that when people are paid such low wages they become usually trapped at this level, with little or no access to training or development, and no ability to pay for the support they need to progress.
In addition, back in 2010 Professor Sir Michael Marmot published ‘Fair society, healthy lives’, commonly known as the Marmot Review.
The report points out that “There is a social gradient in health – the lower a person’s social position, the worse his or her health.”
It also points out that: “Action taken to reduce health inequalities will benefit society in many ways. It will have economic benefits in reducing losses from illness associated with health inequalities. These currently account for productivity losses, reduced tax revenue, higher welfare payments and increased treatment costs.”
I believe that as a society we have a responsibility to others – including supporting those who can work, to improve their lot in life through work. And to pay them a fair day’s wage that does not trap them into poverty and state benefits.