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2 November 2015, 08:19
Hundreds of employers have agreed to pay their lowest earning staff a fifth more than the minimum wage as part of growing campaign to make wages match the cost of living.
The voluntary living wage, set by an independent foundation and adopted by 380 Scottish firms, has risen from £7.85 an hour to £8.25 today.
It is nearly a fifth higher than the national minimum wage, set by the UK Government, of £6.70 an hour and over £1 more than the the new minimum wage premium for over 25s of £7.20 an hour that will come into force in April.
Glasgow University is the latest institution to become an accredited living wage employer, taking the Living Wage Foundation a step closer to its goal of 500 accredited firms by March.
New research by KPMG, released to coincide with the new rate, reveals that Scotland is outperforming the rest of the UK with 80% of workers earning more than the living wage compared with 77% across the UK.
But approximately 441,000 people in Scotland are still below the living wage, with East Renfrewshire the worst performing area at 32% earning less than #8.25 followed by Angus and Clackmannanshire at 31%.
Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said: ''The increase being announced today will be a welcome boost to the pay packets of thousands of Scottish employees.
''There has been much debate in recent weeks about how best to address the problems of in-work poverty. We know that paying the living wage is at the heart of the solution.''
Professor Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow, also said: ''We have paid our staff at this level for several years now, making the necessary adjustments to the national pay scales accordingly.
''From May this year we have taken steps to ensure that all casual workers we engage are paid at least the living wage, and we're keen to remain an exemplar of good practice in the higher education sector.''
Fair Work Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: ''I firmly welcome the University of Glasgow's accreditation and their signing of the pledge.
''They are one of the city's most significant employers and their involvement sends a strong signal to the sector and the university sector that accreditation is both achievable and desirable.
''This is an important landmark in our drive to have at least 500 accredited employers by March next year.
''With so many employers signing up in the last year alone, thousands of Scottish employees have received a pay rise.''
Sarah Vero, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: ''Today we are celebrating those 2,000 responsible businesses, including 380 Scottish employers, which are voluntarily paying the Living Wage to their staff.
''These employers are not waiting for the Westminster Government to tell them what to do; their actions are helping to end the injustice that is in-work poverty in the UK now.''