The UK government should aim to cut the number of low paid workers by one million by 2020, according to the Living Wage Commission.

This should be achieved by offering more workers a “living wage”, according to the commission’s chairman, Archbishop Dr John Sentamu.

The commission, which is an independent body comprised of businesses, trade unions and civil society, says the majority of people in poverty in the UK are working.

Archbishop Sentamu said:

“Working and still living in poverty is a national scandal. For the first time, the majority of people in poverty in the UK are now in working households.

“If the government now commits to making this hope a reality, we can take a major step towards ending the strain on all of our consciences. Low wages equals living in poverty.”

The commission’s definition of the living wage is “an hourly rate of income calculated according to a basic cost of living in the UK and defined as the minimum amount of money needed to enjoy a basic, but socially acceptable standard of living”.

The UK living wage is currently £7.65 an hour, or £8.80 an hour in London. By contrast, the national minimum wage (NMW) is £6.31 an hour.

Responding to the commission, the Federation of Small Businesses said that at least half if its members pay above the NMW, but that raising it could jeopardise small firms.

Image by Chris Isherwood