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Implementing National Living Wage 'toughest in low-paying northern cities'

By MC Allegra FS

- Last updated on GMT

Implementing National Living Wage 'toughest in low-paying northern cities'

Related tags National living wage Minimum wage

Implementing the new National Living Wage (NLW) will be toughest in lower-paying city regions such as Sheffield, Nottingham and Birmingham, where over a quarter of all employees will be affected by 2020, according to new analysis published by the Resolution Foundation.

The analysis shows that the new NLW – the new wage floor of £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 and over, which comes into effect in April – will be felt very differently across the UK.

By 2020, around six million employees across the UK – 23% of all employees across the workforce – are set to be affected by the NLW.

However, a far higher share of staff will see their pay increase in many cities across the country. In Sheffield, 28% of employees are set to be affected – more than any other major city in the UK. A high proportion of employees in Nottingham (27%) and Birmingham (26%) are also set to benefit from the NLW.

In contrast just 13% of employees in Oxford are set to be affected by the NLW, with London (14%) and Cambridge (15%) also relatively unaffected by the new higher wage floor.

The Foundation warns that implementing the new wage floor will prove particularly challenging in lower paying cities, and will be one of the first tests of economic leadership under new devolved arrangements.

It said that minimising any job losses, and ensuring that large groups of workers do not get stuck earning only the legal minimum, should be a top priority for national government, local leaders, businesses and soon-to-be elected City mayors.

A focus on boosting productivity and progression in low paying sectors such as retail, hospitality, cleaning and care will be needed to ensure that the NLW is affordable for local employers, says the Foundation.

The Foundation adds that, despite the name, the government’s new legal wage floor is not a ‘living wage’, and there remains plenty of scope to expand the reach of the voluntary living wage, which is currently set at £8.25 in the UK, and £9.40 in London.

Adam Corlett, economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The new National Living Wage will have a huge impact on low pay, particularly towards the end of the parliament as it approaches £9 an hour.

“But implementing the new wage floor will be challenging, particularly in cities like Sheffield where wages tend to be lower. National, local and new regional politicians must work closely with employers to ensure that the National Living Wage is a success, particularly in low paying sectors.

“It will take more than a higher wage floor to tackle Britain’s low pay problem. Expanding the reach of the voluntary living wage campaign will still deliver higher pay for thousands of workers. It’s also vital that employers create progression routes at work so that staff can be lifted out of low pay altogether.”

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