An estimated 20,000 people in Milton Keynes - 13 per cent of the workforce - are being paid less than the £7.45 per hour Living Wage, says a new report.
The rate is considered the amount it takes to support a basic standard of living and the figure is above the legal national minimum wage of £6.31 per hour.
In Milton Keynes the figure has dropped from 14 per cent of the workforce in the space of a year but across the country it has risen.
Younger workers, aged 18-21, women and part time workers have been hit the hardest by what is called in-work poverty.
Mark Matthewman, office senior partner for KPMG in Milton Keynes said: “It is good news that the number of workers in Milton Keynes being paid more than the Living Wage is on the rise, but low pay is a growing problem in Britain and is a particular issue at a time when the cost of living is rising at a faster rate than earnings.
“Whilst it is still not easy, earning a Living Wage can make a huge difference to individuals and their families, enabling them to afford a basic standard of life.
“For many businesses in the region, paying the Living Wage rate need not actually cost any more. At KPMG, we have found that better staff performance and motivation combined with lower absenteeism and turnover cancels out the extra salary costs.”
He added: “It may not be possible or practical for everyone, but all employers need to do what they can to address the problem of low pay. In practice, transition to the Living Wage is a phased programme that does not happen overnight. Making an initial assessment is an important first step.”
The worst-affected occupations are bar staff and waiters/waitresses – though a caveat is these workers will often earn discretionary tips on top of their wage - sales and retail assistants followed by cleaners.
Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “The Living Wage has grown rapidly as a concept in the last year and has attracted considerable support. I would like to thank all 400 organisations that are accredited payers and call on more organisations to look to the welfare of their lowest paid staff and move to the Living Wage.
“The research is a timely reminder of the size of the challenge of low pay in Britain. The growth in part time employment is a feature of the economy that is here to stay and employers must consider wage differentials with full time workers. However, this is not to undermine the real progress made elsewhere.”
The research was conducted for KPMG, which has a base in Central Milton Keynes, by Markit.
The Living Wage is a voluntary rate of pay designed to enable workers to afford a basic but acceptable standard of living. The rate is currently £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 outside the capital.
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