The arguments are growing for a living wage
It doesn't make any sense that the government enforces a minimum wage that is not enough to live reasonably on, which is why I think the living wage is so desperately needed.
There is a difference between existing on the minimum wage and actually 'living', especially in London where the average rent on a flat is floating around the £1,200 a month mark.
I believe that the government has a moral duty to ensure standards of living for all are reasonable and they are not living on the breadline. According to think-tank The Resolution Foundation, there is also a financial benefit to increasing the minimum wage.
A study by the organisation shows the Treasury would save over £2 billion a year if workers were paid the living wage of £7.45, rising to £8.55 in London – the minimum wage is currently £6.19.
This move would add £6.5 billion to workers' earnings each year. The government would be a winner in this situation because it would benefit from higher income tax payments and lower spending on benefits – a win-win for the government.
It would also benefit the five million people who are currently paid less than the living wage – three million of which are women.
The think-tank believes the government should set an example to the private sector and increase public sector wages to the living wage. This would be a great start and benefit a huge chunk of people but setting an example may not be a strong enough step to push the private sector into increasing wages.
Private companies are already feeling put upon by the need to provide pensions for employees as part of auto-enrolment and this will be seen as another burden by business owners and business groups.
We need the government to be more proactive and replace the minimum wage with the living wage, which should then be reviewed every few years to ensure it is keeping pace with inflation.
It is not right that the minimum wage is not enough to realistically live on. The Resolution Foundation has shown that is will benefit the government and workers, so the politicians should insist that the private sector do its bit to drag people out of poverty.
There is no silver bullet to ending poverty in the UK but the government must work alongside companies to help make the transition to a living wage.