A new survey carried out by Social Enterprise UK has revealed that over 74% of social enterprises pay the Living Wage. Around 91% of these said paying the Living Wage was a “responsible thing to do and social enterprises are responsible businesses”.
The majority of social enterprises taking the survey (87%) agreed that social enterprises were “good businesses and should be pioneers” in adopting the Living Wage. Two thirds of respondents also argued that all social enterprises should pay the Living Wage.
Social enterprises taking the survey that did not pay the Living Wage (20%) said they had to compete with other businesses in open markets and paying the Living Wage could result in reducing the number of employees. Over 52% of these said they were not paying the Living Wage because they were small or starting up.
Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “What the results of this survey show is that social enterprises are leading the way when it comes to pay. In an economic recovery dominated by low-pay and with ever rising inequality it is heartening to see that the vast majority of social enterprises see paying the Living Wage as essential to their mission as responsible businesses.
“Of course there are legitimate concerns to paying the Living Wage and adopting it is not the silver bullet which will break down structural imbalances in the economy. Many social enterprises are operating in sectors where wages are notoriously low and competition is fierce – and paying the Living Wage may well disadvantage them or leave them unable to compete.
“The public sector has an important role to play to help foster an enabling environment by specifying in their contracts that workforces are paid the Living Wage. Camden Council’s Carers’ Services is a great example of where this already happening.”
The current UK Living Wage is £8.25 an hour, while the London Living Wage is £9.40. Sarah Vero, director of the Living Wage Foundation, added: “We are delighted to know that around three quarters of the social enterprises surveyed are paying the voluntary Living Wage based on the real cost of living. We would encourage those businesses that are paying to accredit as Living Wage employers.
“Accreditation as a Living Wage employer sees businesses extend the Living Wage to all staff, this includes those working on contracts for an organisation as well as directly employed staff. Often those roles that are sub-contracted, such as cleaning, catering and security, are those most likely to be paid at a very low rate. Accreditation ensures better pay for all.”
There are around 70,000 social enterprises in the UK. An earlier survey carried out by Social Enterprise UK has shown that 14% of the 15,198 social enterprises responding identified themselves as co-operatives.
- Take a look at our case studies of co-ops who have chosen to be Living Wage employers.