The History of Living Wage Foundation

The History of Living Wage Foundation
Living Wage Foundation


The concept of a Living Wage has roots in various cultural, religious and philosophical traditions.


The modern UK Living Wage Campaign was launched by members of London Citizens in 2001. The founders were parents in the East End of London, who wanted to remain in work, but found that despite working two or more minimum wage jobs they were struggling to make ends meet and were left with no time for family and community life.


The Living Wage is an example of communities, business, campaigners and faith groups coming together to find practical, non-statutory means to address working poverty and strengthen families.


In 2005, following a series of successful Living Wage campaigns and growing interest from employers, the Greater London Authority established the Living Wage Unit to calculate the London Living Wage. 


In 2008 Trust for London seleected the London Living Wage as a special intititive and made a grant of over £1 million to deliver direct campaign work, research and an accreditation scheme for employers.


The Living Wage campaign has since grown into a national movement.


Local campaigns began emerging across the UK offering the opportunity to involve many more employers and lift many more thousands of families out of working poverty.


The Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation began calculating a UK wide Minimum Income Standard (MIS) figure. The MIS is an average across the whole of the UK, but does not reflect the variation in the cost of living inside and outside of London.


In 2011 Citizens UK brought together grass roots campaigners and leading employers from across the UK, working closely with colleagues on the Scottish Living Wage Campaign in particular, to agree a standard model, calculated by the CRSP, for setting the UK Living Wage outside of London. 


At the same time, following consultation with campaigners, trade unions, employers who support the Living Wage and HR specialists, Citizens UK launched the Living Wage Foundation and Living Wage Employer mark.


These new initiatives from the UK wide campaign recognise and celebrate the responsible leadership shown by Living Wage Employers and support employers to incorporate the Living Wage into organisational structures long term.


Since 2001 the campaign has impacted tens of thousands of employees and put over £210 million into the pockets of some of the lowest paid workers in the UK.


Paying the Living Wage is a recognised sign of good practice in employment.


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