Bridget Phillipson MP, Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South, has sponsored a Bill in the House of Commons that will require companies to publish annual reports on the percentage of their staff being paid less than the Living Wage (the income necessary to achieve a minimum acceptable standard of living).
The Bill was tabled in the House of Commons on 3 February by Labour MP for Lewisham Heidi Alexander MP and is due for second reading this week (Friday).
The Bill will seek to improve transparency over low wages in the UK economy. New research published today (23 February) by the TUC has revealed the extent of the problem.
Its analysis, which was based on official figures from the House of Commons Library, demonstrated that one in five jobs pays in the UK pays less than the living wage – currently set at £9.15 in London and £7.85 across the rest of Britain.
A report published by KPMG in 2014 also showed that there are now an estimated 5.28 million people in the UK earning less than the Living Wage.
The millions on low wages have to rely upon government support through tax credits and the payment of in-work benefits to make ends meet.
Supplementing the incomes of the low-paid in this way makes it more difficult to get the deficit down and increases the government’s benefits bill.
The Living Wage (Reporting) Bill sponsored by Bridget in the House of Commons will introduce a mechanism by which the public and workers can find out which companies pay the living wage and which do not.
The publication of annual reports on the percentage of staff in listed companies paid less than the Living Wage will end the culture of silence around low wages and prevent large companies pursuing profit at the expense of their workers and the taxpayer.
Speaking after the Bill was tabled in the Commons, Bridget said:
“Low pay is making life impossible for millions across the county. This is the first Parliament since the 1920s in which people will be worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.
“In my constituency of Houghton and Sunderland South over a fifth of full-time workers are not being paid a subsistence wage. The situation for part-time workers is much worse, with over 40% on low pay.
“These are people who work hard and do the right thing but still do not earn enough to provide for themselves and their families.
“I sponsored Heidi Alexander MP’s Living Wage (Reporting) Bill because I think the millions of people across the country on low wages and British taxpayers deserve to know which companies pay their employees a fair wage.
“It is currently very difficult for the public to know which companies are doing the right thing. This Bill will bring much needed transparency and put pressure on large employers to change their ways.
“It is time for big companies to take this issue seriously; those that can afford to pay their employees a Living Wage should do so.”