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Provide a decent living wage

Last updated: 09:15am 21 November 2019

A new deal for ordinary, working people giving them a decent living wage and new rights and protections in the workplace.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.12

Our verdict

The wording for this policy comes from the introduction to the Economy section of the manifesto. Usually all policies in the introduction are referenced further down in the detail of the section, but because a “decent” living wage isn’t specifically mentioned later, we’re tracking it as a separate policy.

In fact it’s the use of the word “decent” that poses the challenge with tracking this policy. How much is a decent salary? Is it £20k? £30k? More? For advice, we spoke to the Resolution Foundation – a think-tank focused on improving the living standards for those on low to middle incomes. They told us:

“There are a number of ways to define a ‘decent living wage’. One way is to link the wage to average earnings. This is what the government has done with the National Living Wage, the minimum wage for workers 25 and over. This is on course to be worth 60 per cent of median hourly earnings by 2020.

“Another approach is to calculate a wage based on what people think is needed for an acceptable standard of living. This is the approach taken by the Living Wage Foundation, whose ‘Real Living Wage’ is based on what a representative group of people think is needed for employees and their families to have an acceptable quality of life.”

This is helpful as the government has also pledged to increase the National Living Wage – so it’s likely this is the definition they are working to. However, with significant differences between the two measures (£9.00 per hour for the Real Living Wage’ / £10.55 in London, against £7.83 for the National Living Wage) it’s unlikely this will meet everybody’s definition of ‘decent’.

For now though, given the government has taken action to increase the National Living Wage it’s reasonable to say this policy is ‘in progress’. We’ll be looking for agreement on whether the increases in the National Living Wage also deliver the promise of a “decent living wage”, and will update this page where there’s news. Follow this policy to hear first.

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