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Archbishop Launches Living Wage Rate for UK

Monday 5th November 2012

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu together with Julia Unwin CBE Chief Executive of Joseph Rowntree Foundation /Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust today launched the UK Living Wage.



The UK Living Wage is calculated by the Centre of Research in Social Policy and is based on work on Minimum Income Standards, carried out over four years by the JRF.  Today it is announced that the rate for the UK outside of London as £7.45. This morning, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, announced the new rate for London as £8.55

The Living Wage rate is designed so that recipients have a basic quality of life for themselves and their families. 


The Archbishop said: “I recently sponsored a Fairness Commission in York and one of the Commission’s key recommendations was to call for a Living Wage to be introduced across the city. Introducing a Living Wage recognises that people should be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work.  We need to value each and every person, rather than cutting adrift those unfortunate enough to find themselves at the bottom.


“Paying a decent wage for our workers is a sign that as a nation – publicly, privately, corporately and individually – we recognise the unique contribution of others to the common good.”

JRF and JRHT is committed to paying a living wage to staff working in its care homes. It is the first care provider to make this pledge.  Nearly 100 companies are accredited payers of the Living Wage to their employees and contract staff.

The Archbishop’s speech in full at today’s launch of the UK Living Wage at the Hospitium, Museum Gardens, York follows:


“Back in 2006 the Commission on Urban Life and Faith published a report called Faithful Cities: A call for celebration, vision and justice.

The Commission, of which Baroness Kathleen Richardson was chair, and I was Vice-Chair, consisted of eight members of the Church of England, two Roman Catholics, one member of the United Reformed Church, one Methodist and one Muslim; and was representative of age, gender, ethnic background and income differentials.

 The Commission’s task had been to study some of the changes in the twenty-five years following publication of The Faith in the City report.

To see what had been achieved in terms of justice and equality in our cities, and to be ready to question and challenge where change was still needed.

In our recommendation on ‘Wealth and Poverty’ we stated that, “For the flourishing of a just and equitable society, the gap between those living in poverty and the very wealthy must be reduced.”

And we noted that the first implication of this was that the Government should “consider the effects of implementing a living wage rather than a minimum wage.”

I am therefore very grateful for this opportunity to reiterate today the call for a Living Wage in the UK.

This is it: together announcing the Living Wage rates for the UK.

As our country goes through tough economic times we need to remember that not all in our society are blessed with good jobs, incomes, housing and leisure opportunities.


Indeed 1 in 5 people in the UK who are in work are not paid a Living Wage – that is an absolute scandal – given the wealth of our nation.


You would think listening to the rhetoric of some of our elected political representatives that the problems of poverty in this country are caused by people choosing to be unemployed, choosing to be on benefits and deciding not to contribute to making society stronger.

Actually, when you look at the figures, you can see that 6 out of 10 families in the UK living in poverty have at least one adult in paid work.

Talking about the struggles faced by the working poor has become a social taboo. We would prefer to pretend that the problem wasn’t there – but sadly it is.

It is a very grim reality that needs addressing urgently by all of us.

We will not make this country stronger by impoverishing others. Whether that is by offering unpaid internships and work experience to young people – or by freezing Minimum Wage levels for the poorest – the end result is that our society, our communities and our nation become sicker and less cohesive as a result.

It was my great privilege to be the Sponsor of The Fairness Commission here in York, and we delivered our findings earlier this year.

We worked long and hard to see how we could deliver a more caring, more cohesive and a fairer York in difficult economic times.

We worked with local people, organisations, charities and businesses to determine what would be the fairest way forward, at a time where national cuts made unenviable local decisions unavoidable.

One of The Fairness Commission’s key recommendations was to call for a Living Wage to be introduced across the city.

Introducing a Living Wage recognises that people should be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work.  We need to value each and every person, rather than cutting adrift those unfortunate enough to find themselves at the bottom.


We need to help set in motion a process where we all pull in the same direction to make societal unfairness a thing of the past.

We need a common endeavour to tackle inequality – if we really are ‘all in this together’ we need to start acting and speaking with one voice


I have said before that I see youth unemployment and pay inequality as new social evils that we need to stand together to tackle.


The fact that poverty pay is allowed to exist in the 21st century is a national disgrace. These two insidious giants must be slain.

You can judge how healthy a society is by how it treats the most vulnerable people.  Research has conclusively shown that a more equal society is a happier society. 

If we want to see our country prosper and flourish we must reduce its income inequality.  It is our duty and our responsibility.


Here in York we have consistently taken the lead on tackling inequality – local employers, such as the Rowntree family understood that a happy, healthy, well-educated and prosperous workforce helped deliver a happier, healthier, better educated society.


If we want our communities to be safe, generous and flourishing, we must invest in all the people within them.


As we launch Living Wage levels today, here in York, it is my hope that the whole of the UK will follow the example being set here. Paying workers a living wage for their endeavours should be a badge of honour.

It should be a sign that as a nation – publicly, privately, corporately and individually – we recognise the unique contribution of others to the common good.


Let us increase equality of opportunity, reduce income inequality and improve the wellbeing of all. This is not about rewarding people who ‘do the right thing’, it is about justice.

It is about paying people what they are due for their labours. And the starting scale for all of us is a Living Wage.


What we must ask is, do we want to live in a society where inequality and suffering is ingrained, or would we rather send out a message of the Christian Virtue of Hope - that everyone is valued and has an important part to play?


As the eyes of a nation focuses on York today, I hope that we will unite in saying a Living Wage is right, a Living Wage is just and a Living Wage is desirable – and long overdue - not just for the individual but also for our society.

No more delay – let’s end “poverty pay”! Then we can tackle the bigger evil of income inequality.

On this Guy Fawkes day let us - like him – take risks; but, unlike him, our gunpowder is made up of fairness, justice and income equality.  The Living Wage is the fuse that will light this gunpowder that will explode this great demon of income inequality. Nothing short of a big bang will do. Enough is enough!”

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