One in four Yorkshire workers 'paid below' voluntary living wage

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About one in four workers are being paid below the voluntary living wage across Yorkshire and the Humber, leaving some struggling to escape in-work poverty.

A new report by professional service company KPMG said about 24 per cent of the workforce across the region earns below the voluntary rate of £8.45, which is above the statutory national living wage of £7.50 for over 25-year-olds.

Yorkshire and the Humber was the joint second area with the highest proportion of jobs earning below the voluntary rate alongside the Midlands and Wales. Northern Ireland was the highest with 26 per cent.

The auditing firm estimated that 5.5 million workers across the UK were on less than the voluntary rate, down by 100, 000 on a year ago - the first reduction in five years.

In addition, one in four women earn less than the voluntary rate compared with 16 per cent of men, while more than two out of five part-time workers don't get paid the higher figure.

Andy Bagnall, director at KPMG, said: "Today's figures show that more work needs to be done if we are to eradicate in-work poverty. It's unfortunate that in 2017 more than five million working people in the UK are earning below the real living wage and cannot enjoy the standard of life so many of us take for granted.

"In the past, many businesses were worried that increased wages would hit their bottom line, but there is ample evidence to suggest otherwise. By paying the real living wage since 2006 KPMG has seen improved staff morale, a rise in service standards, improved retention of staff and increased productivity. More importantly, it has been an enabler for social mobility."

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, which sets the voluntary rate, added: "Today's figures show that, whilst moving in the right direction, there are still 5.5 million people earning less than the real living wage across the UK and with the cost of living increasing as inflation rises, those on lowest incomes are really feeling the squeeze."

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "The last seven years of Tory economic failure has seen wages stagnate, with 7.4 million people in working households in poverty, and nearly four million children living in poverty across the country."

A spokeswoman for the department for business, energy and industrial strategy said: "We welcome employers choosing to pay their staff more than this when they can afford to do so, including at the Living Wage Foundation's voluntary rate."