Strong majority in favour of raising the minimum wage to a living wage

Big Ben, Westminster

A new YouGov poll suggests that people are strongly in favour of increasing the NMW to the Living Wage.

The poll, conducted for the Sunday Times, asked respondents the following question:

“Do you think the level of the minimum wage should or should not be increased to match the living wage?”

A surprising 76% of people think the NMW should be raised to the Living Wage. Just 14% disagreed and 10% said they did not know.

Across supporters of the main four political parties (in terms of UK-wide popular support) a majority in each would support such a move. Not surprisingly, the party most in favour is Labour 84%. 75% of UKIP supporters want it to be raised, as do 78% of Lib Dem supporters and even 65% of Conservative supporters.

In addition to this, the poll also indicates that people think that many companies fail to pay the Living Wage even when they can afford to. 74% of respondents think this, whereas 14% again disagree. 12% said they did not know.

The Living Wage is currently £7.85 outside London, over a pound higher than the NMW at £6.50 for those over 21. There is no legal obligation to pay it. For those campaigning for the Living Wage the case behind it is that it would help pull people out of low pay poverty and help increase workplace productivity. But one argument against it is that many companies would struggle to pay all their workers this without letting some go.

Under a Conservative majority government it seems unlikely that the National Minimum Wage would be increased in line with the Living Wage.

But if you go onto the Living Wage Foundation’s home page one of the first things that comes up is a quote from Boris Johnson saying the following:

“Paying the London Living Wage is not only morally right, but makes good business sense too. There are now over 2,200 employees working for companies with contracts from the GLA who are benefitting from the London Living Wage.”

The foundation also says that:

"The Living Wage enjoys cross party support, with public backing from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition"

If this potential future Conservative leader is making such a statement - and with such strong public backing according to this poll - such a change could one day happen.

See the full results of the YouGov poll here.

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