How many earn below the living wage?

Published: 25th Jan 2017

In brief

Claim

Six million people earn below the national living wage.

Conclusion

The research this appears to be based on refers to jobs, rather than people. In 2014 5.4 million people with one job earned below the national living wage.

“The threat to workers’ rights are there every day. Six million earning less than a living wage.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 25 January 2017

“It is this government that has introduced the national living wage”.

Theresa May, 25 January 2017

These two living wages aren’t the same, and it looks like Mr Corbyn’s claim is referring to jobs, rather than people.

Mr Corbyn is talking about the voluntary living wage estimated by the Living Wage Foundation, a charity which focuses on the cost of living. It’s currently £9.75 in London and £8.45 across the rest of the UK.

Mr Corbyn’s office said he used figures from the foundation itself, which seems to use estimates from KPMG. Its press release says that there were 5.84 million people earning less than the living wage in 2014.

But one of the report’s authors confirmed to us that it actually refers to the number of jobs.

So that’s not quite the same as six million people because some people have more than one job. It’s previously been estimated that 5.4 million people with one job earned less than the living wage in 2014.

Meanwhile, Theresa May is talking about the government’s National Living Wageand she's correct that the government introduced this. It effectively boosted the existing minimum wage for the over-25s.

It's currently £7.20 across the UK. Anyone under the age of 25 can earn anything from from £3.40 to £6.95 as minimum, depending on their age.

In April 2016, when the National Living Wage was first introduced, there were 362,000 jobs which earned less than £7.20. That’s 1.3% of all jobs at the time.

Correction 19 April 2017

The conclusion originally referred to 2015 instead of 2014.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of Prime Minister's Questions. Read the roundup.


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