The Living Wage Commission was set up to promote what it calls “the increasingly popular concept of a Living Wage [for] for Britain’s five million low paid workers”. While this is a noble ideal that has attracted some high powered support, including John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, the concept of the living wage as the minimum wage is a flawed one. The reason is not far to seek, but if you do not understand why, start with this article and follow the links. You will also realise, hopefully, there is another and positive alternative, namely Basic Income. This is now a worldwide movement; organisations involved in its promotion include Basic Income UK and an international organisation, Basic Income Earth Network.
That being said, the Commission is currently seeking submissions from employers, employees and all and sundry, including members of the general public. One would hope indeed expect that a few economists would be more than willing to step forward.
Last month, the Commission published its interim report on workers who are living in poverty. You can download a free copy in Portable Document Format from its website where you can also read some testimonies from last year from some of the people at the business end of poverty pay.
[The above op-ed was first published March 9, 2014. Although when I consulted the website of the Living Wage Commission on January 7, 2022, it appears not to have been updated for years, the Commission being set up for a mere 12 months. The website of what might be called its successor can be found here.]
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