In the current economic climate, many of those lucky enough to be in employment are still struggling to make ends meet, as highlighted in a new report from KPMG that shows a fifth of people are earning less than the Living Wage. This wage, calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, is considered to be the minimum amount required for a basic standard of living. At £7.20 per hour (£8.30 for those living in London), the Living Wage is higher than the national minimum wage, which this month rose to £6.19 for anyone over 21 years of age, but it is not a statutory requirement. Those employers who pay it do so voluntarily.
The report was compiled from the responses of people aged 18-64 but, as it does not provide a breakdown of the statistics by age, it is difficult to see how this problem affects young people specifically. However, the report does provide a breakdown by region, with Northern Ireland at 24% and Wales at 23% having the highest levels of people earning less than the Living Wage.
One of the social consequences of living in these regions is the impact on the aspirations of young people there. When problems such as low pay exist over the long-term, they become ‘normalised’ and young people in these areas will simply expect to earn less than their counterparts in more affluent areas. In short, they stop aspiring to a better life, and if we want this generation to achieve their full economic potential, we simply cannot allow this to happen.