1. ITV Report

Wales This Week, The Cost of Working

Wales This Week, The Cost of Working is available to watch online here:

Fifteen years ago, the UK Government introduced the National Minimum Wage - it was then £3.60 an hour. Later this year it will rise to £6.50, but is that really enough to live on? The startling fact is that most people claiming benefits here in Wales actually go to work.

In this month’s Budget, Chancellor George Osborne raised the amount you can earn before paying tax and helped working families with the cost of childcare. But for many people, the challenge remains exactly the same - finding work which pays enough to live on.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a family with two primary school-aged children now needs to bring in £36,500 a year to achieve a basic standard of living - that is around £701.92 each week

Yet the average wage in Wales is only £520.70 a week - the lowest in the UK

It's claimed that our wages have not yet caught up with the increasing cost of living. Recent statistics from the Wales TUC have revealed that the average weekly wage in Wales has actually reduced in real terms by over £30 per week since 2010, so should we consider an increase in our wages, and is this something we can afford?

A series of events is being run this week as a part of Wales TUC’s Fairplay Fortnight - a campaign aimed at addressing the issue of low wages in Wales.

Like many others, the TUC believe that the answer is simple - an increase in the National Minimum Wage to an amount which would take the cost of living into account - an amount referred to as the ‘Living Wage’.

This so-called ‘Living Wage’ is an independent calculation based on the UK cost of living. It’s currently £7.65 an hour for jobs outside London.

Something that’s often not recognised is that the living wage would actually save the treasury quite considerable sums of money on housing benefit, council tax benefit or working tax credits.

– Victoria Winckler, Living Wage Commission

But there are many within the business community who would disagree that a move to the Living Wage would offer the solutions we need. They say that small businesses in particular would struggle to raise their wage costs by such a large amount and as a result we may cause more damage than good.

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