Public calls on charities to pay workers 'enough to live on'

More than three quarters of the public are urging charities to pay all their workers at least the real living wage.

The call comes as it emerged that one in seven charity workers are paid below this level, which is set by the Living Wage Foundation and amounts to £9.90 an hour in the UK and £11.05 in London.

The impact of Covid on charity finances coupled with record inflation, which rose to 9.1% this week, the highest level in 40 years, are major causes of low pay in the charity sector.

The figures have been revealed in a report by the Living Wage Foundation on third sector pay.

It warns that increased demand for services and low pay is harming charity workers and “threatening the stability of the services they provide”.

Among findings from the Foundation’s survey of more than 2,000 adults is that 77 per cent believe that directly employed and contracted charity staff should be paid the real living wage.

The Foundation also found that women and part time workers are being hardest hit by low pay in the charity sector.

While 14% of jobs in the charity sector are paid less than the real living wage, the proportion rises to 17% among women and drops to 10% among their male colleagues.

Seven in ten of all low paid roles are held by women in the sector.

While 8% of full-time jobs are low paid, this rises to 26% among part time roles.

Young workers are also more adversely affected, with 58% of teenage workers paid less than the real living wage. Around a third of 20-24-year-olds are paid less than this level.

Areas with the highest levels of low pay in the charity sector are those in the North West and the Midlands.

Small charity workers are also among the hardest hit. While just under a fifth of those in charities with 10 or fewer employees earn less than the real living wage, compared to 6% of those with 500 or more staff.

“Many low paid third sector workers faced enormous pressures to make sure the most vulnerable people in society were supported during the pandemic,” said Living Wage Foundation director Katherine Chapman.

“Now, despite already struggling to keep their heads above water, the 1 in 7 third sector workers still paid below the real Living Wage face being swept away by the rising tide of high living costs.

“Everybody needs a wage that meets their everyday needs, but it can’t be right that so many of those who look after our loved ones and the most vulnerable in society are struggling to afford even the basics.

“We strongly encourage all those third sector employers that can afford to do so to commit to pay a real Living Wage and for funders to provide enough to support real Living Wage jobs through the grant-making process.

“The real Living Wage is a lifeline for workers during these difficult times – and will help ensure a sustainable and resilient sector in the future.”

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