Almost six million workers in the UK are paid less than the living wage, a study suggests.
The data showed a “worrying trend” of part-time, female and young workers being most likely to earn below the figure, researchers found.
The living wage, promoted by the Living Wage Foundation, is currently £7.85 an hour and £9.15 in London. It is not compulsory for employers to pay it.
The government said it was “determined to move to a higher wage economy”.
The accountancy firm KPMG said its research showed that the proportion of workers earning less than the living wage had risen for three years in a row.
The wage is well above the compulsory national minimum wage, and more than the new national living wage which the government has announced will come into force next April.
- The living wage is an informal benchmark, not a legally enforceable minimum level of pay. It is currently £7.85 and £9.15 in London
- The national minimum wage is the compulsory minimum level of pay set by the business secretary each year on the advice of the Low Pay Commission. It stands at £6.70 an hour for adults aged 21 and over, and £5.30 for those aged 18 to 20
- In the last Budget the government announced a new compulsory National Living Wage will come into force from April 2016. It will be paid to workers aged 25 and above. It will be set initially at £7.20 an hour and is intended to exceed £9 an hour by 2020
Mike Kelly, of KPMG, said: “With the cost of living still high, the squeeze on household finances remains acute, meaning the reality for many is that they are forced to live hand-to-mouth” ,,,,,,.