SNP manifesto claim on living wage is slight underestimate

Published: 5th Dec 2019

In brief

Claim

Scotland has the highest rate of workers in the UK earning the real living wage, at 81.6%.

Conclusion

This seems to be based on slightly out of date figures, the most up to date figures we could find suggest this is a slight underestimate and that the figure is closer to 83%

In the SNP manifesto the party claims that Scotland has the highest rate of workers in the UK earning the living wage. It specifies that 81.6% are paid “real Living Wage”. 

This seems to be based on slightly out of date figures, the most up to date figures we could find suggest this is a slight underestimate and that the figure is closer to 83%. This is higher than any of the UK countries, but it lower than in the South East region of England.

The “real Living Wage” is the voluntary Living Wage recommended by the Living Wage Foundation which is higher than the National Living Wage (the name for the legal minimum wage for over 25s). This is currently £10.75 an hour in London and £9.30 for the rest of the UK. 

79.9% of employee jobs in the UK earned the voluntary Living Wage or more according to 2019 Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures. In Scotland 83.1% of employee jobs earned the voluntary Living Wage or more compared to 77.4% in Wales, 79.9% in England and 74.9%% in Northern Ireland. So Scotland is the UK nation with the highest proportion of people earning at least the living wage.

Although England as a whole has a lower rate of people earning at least the real Living Wage, there are regions where it is higher. In the South East of England 84.1% of employee jobs earned the real Living Wage or more. 

The SNP seems to be using slightly outdated figures. The most recent figures we can find which match their claim come from the ONS in 2017 and in that data 81.6% of jobs are paid at least the voluntary Living Wage in Scotland. In that data Scotland also has the highest rate of any nation and only the South East of England region has a higher rate.

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