Leeds outperforms nation but huge numbers earn below Living Wage

Picture: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire
Picture: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire
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MORE THAN a quarter of Yorkshire’s workforce is paid less than the amount needed to cover the basic costs of living, according to new research.

Some 519,000 people in the region - 26 per cent of all employees - earn less than £7.85 per hour, the amount considered to be the ‘Living Wage’ outside of London and are forced to live “hand to mouth”.

Leeds and Calderdale are anomalies however, as both outperform the national average with 21 per cent and 20 per cent of employees paid less than the Living Wage respectively.

According to the figures published by KPMG, employees in Harrogate are worst off, with 34 per cent earning below the Living Wage; compared to 23 per cent of all employees in the UK.

Nationally, the proportion of workers earning less than the Living Wage has risen for the third year running. The data also suggests a trend for part-time, female and young workers as the most likely to earn the lowest wages.

Chris Hearld, KPMG’s North region chairman, said: “The past year has seen some notable achievements, with both the number of employers accredited by the Living Wage Foundation and awareness of the issue among the general public increasing. However, there is still a significant number of people across the region paid below the Living Wage. With the cost of living still high and household finances being continually squeezed, many are forced to live hand to mouth.”

Employers had to respond, Mr Hearld said.

“While it can’t go unrecognised that many regional businesses face a number of challenges and it may not be possible for every business, it is certainly not impossible to explore the feasibility of paying the Living Wage and recognise the long-term benefits it brings.”