Living Wage

The Living Wage is defined as,  “The level to achieve an adequate level of warmth and shelter, a healthy palatable diet, social integration and avoidance of chronic stress for them and their dependants."

It is calculated annually and independently by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough university.

The rate announced on 4 November 2013 is £7.65 per hour (£8.80 per hour in London).

UNISON Living Wage Campaign   Living Wage Foundation   Living Wage Commission


When is a living wage “A Living Wage”?

Newcastle City Branch has challenged the City Council to become an accredited Living Wage employer. This means that the Council would increase wages of the lowest paid in the organisation in line with the increases of the Foundation Living Wage each November.

In addition we have challenged the council to make provision within its procurement policy to ensure that the contractors and businesses the council employs, include a provision that they also pay the Foundation Living Wage.

The Foundation Living Wage is a voluntary hourly rate set independently and updated annually and is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. The current UK Living Wage is £8.25 an hour while the current London Living Wage is £9.40 an hour. Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis.

In July 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the UK Government would introduce a compulsory ‘national living wage’. This new government rate is a minimum wage premium rate for staff aged 25 and older and was introduced from April 2016 at the rate of £7.20 per hour. The rate is separate to the Living Wage rate calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, with the government rate based on median earnings while the Living Wage Foundation rate is calculated according to the cost of living.

The council decided to implement a Newcastle Living Wage in November 2012 following a report by an independent Living Wage Advisory Panel, the rate was £7.20 / hr (the national minimum wage was £6.19 at the time and the foundation living wage was £7.45). This was increased to £7.55 from April 2014 (the national minimum wage was £6.50 at the time and the foundation living wage was £7.65), and to £7.75 / hr from April 2015 (the national minimum wage was £6.70 at the time and the foundation living wage was £7.85); with a stated commitment to “reviewing the level of the Newcastle Living Wage on an annual basis with the aim of matching it to the level of the National Living Wage rate by 2016”.

The current Newcastle Living Wage rate is £7.75 / hr and the National Living Wage is £7.20 / hr.

The idea behind a living wage is very simple, that a person should be paid enough to live decently and to adequately provide for their family. At its heart is an ethical argument for preventing in-work poverty and ensuring workers are not exploited through low wages.


A fairer national minimum wage remains an ‘urgent need’

UNISON reasserts the ‘ultimate goal’ for UK minimum wage policy, in its submission to the Low Pay Commission.

Under the current national minimum wage system, UNISON’s recommendations include:

Read more


Employers to Pay Voluntary Living Wage

Public and private sector employers are ignoring the lower statutory National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour introduced by the government for workers aged 25 and over and moving to pay staff the higher voluntary Living Wage. 

Liverpool John Moores University has been accredited as a Living Wage employer by the Living Wage Foundation. The university, which employs around 2,500 members of staff, has committed to paying permanent employees and third-party contractors at least the Living Wage rate of £8.25 an hour. 

EDF Energy has also been accredited as a Living Wage employer. In addition, the firm will work to encourage all of its suppliers to pay the Living Wage to those that regularly work for the company.  The unions at EDF — Unite, UNISON, GMB and Prospect — have supported the move. 

And from 1 April, the Swedish-owned retailer IKEA UK has introduced the Living Wage Foundation’s voluntary Living Wage rate of £9.40 in London and £8.25 an hour elsewhere in the UK. Around 1,200 IKEA UK team leaders will get a proportionate pay increase.


New 2015 Living Wage Rates Announced

The UK Living Wage rate has been set at £7.85 per hour, an increase of 2.6% on the 2013 rate and 21% higher than the national minimum wage of £6.50 per hour; improving the take home pay of 35,000 low-paid workers across the country who are employed by over 1,000 Living Wage accredited organisations.

Newcastle City Council has said it will increase the amount it pays to its lowest paid workers by setting a Newcastle Living Wage of £7.75 an hour - up 20p from the current rate of £7.55.

As part of Living Wage week the council repeated its aim to match the Newcastle Living Wage to the national Living Wage over the next two years.

The London Living Wage rate has been set at £9.15.

Newcastle Living Wage

Living Wage Foundation


Poverty pay isn’t inevitable. Look to the cleaners of New York

The minimum wage in Britain is £6.31 an hour, while in New York it’s $8 an hour, or £4.93. So who do you think’s better paid: a hotel cleaner in London or one in Manhattan?

At the heart of this question lies one of the most important issues in economics and politics today – who gets paid what, and how. And the answer: New York City wins.

A cleaner on London’s Park Lane will almost certainly be on or around the minimum wage, say £6.31 for each hour. Her counterpart (because, let’s face it, it’s almost always women doing this physically punishing work) on New York’s Park Avenue is likely to be on nearly three times as much: an agreed hourly rate of $28.50, or £17.66.

So, what makes the difference between the hotel staff in London and New York? In our capital, between 2% and 4% of all hotel workers are in a trade union. Over the Atlantic, about 70% of New York hotel staff are unionised.

Read more


UNISON Northern region newsletter

The summer newsletter 'Campaigning for a Living Wage'  reports on the Living Wage debates at UNISON's national conferences, the final report of the Living Wage Commission and the strike scheduled for 10 July.



MAY 2014

UNISON Northern region Living Wage Charter.

UNISON Northern region is committed to ensuring all workers receive a wage which is not only representative of the job they do but also that which is enough and enables the worker to have a decent standard of living.

We use the independently, nationally set Living Wage rate as calculated and defined by the Centre for Research in Social Policy, Loughborough University as a base line and we are actively promoting and campaigning for the rate to be adopted by employers as their minimum rate of pay. A number of employers in the northern region have recognised the benefit not only to their employees but also to themselves for becoming an accredited Living wage employer, sadly the north east has some of the highest numbers of people who are paid below the Living Wage rate and over 5 million people nationally are paid below the Living Wage.

We will:

UNISON Northern region Living Wage Charter.


New report from the Living Wage Commission sets out the scale of low pay in the UK

The Living Wage Commission’s first report, 'Working for Poverty', warns that the economic recovery could fail one in five people in paid employment.

The report, which provides a detailed analysis of the rise of low pay and working poverty, shows that spiralling living costs and stagnating wages at the bottom create a “double squeeze” on the lowest paid. The five million people in low paid employment have the smallest budget elasticity, and are therefore hit hardest by rising living costs.

'Working for Poverty' outlines the changing nature of low pay and poverty in the UK:

Low paid workers are increasingly turning to support to get by, the report finds. This includes a growing dependence on debt, food banks and in-work benefits.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York and Chair of the Living Wage Commission, said today:

“The idea of making work pay is an empty slogan to millions of people who are hard pressed and working hard; but find themselves in a downward social spiral. They are often in two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Meanwhile the UK taxpayer picks up the bill in tax credits, in-work benefits and decreased demand in the economy.

“With the economy showing signs of recovery, employers that can pay a Living Wage must do so. They should choose between continuing to make gains on the back of poverty wages, or doing the right thing and paying a fair wage for a hard day’s work.”

The Living Wage Commission will release its final report in June 2014.  The interim report is available to view here: Working for Poverty

The Journal: Report reveals nearly a quarter of North East workers paid below 'living wage'


The Laidlaw Schools Trust to Keep the Living Wage

The Laidlaw Schools Trust has agreed to keep the Living Wage for the employees TUPE’d over when Thomas Walling became an academy and stated they would recommend the Living Wage for the other schools in the Trust (Excelsior and Atkinson Road Primary).

Schools Convenor report to Branch Committee, January 2014


Facts to share

Help spread the word by cutting and pasting the facts below into your Twitter newsfeed

4.8 million people, 20% of the working population, earn less than a living wage #livingwage

The taxpayer is subsidising poverty wages to the tune of £3.6bn per year, including £1.1bn in means tested benefits #livingwage

18% of UNISON branches report that an employer claims to be a living wage employer but does not pay it to contracted-out staff #livingwage

60% of the general public support increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, making the living wage the new legal minimum #livingwage

Living Wage could create new jobs

New research commissioned by UNISON from leading economist, Howard Reed has found that an estimated 58,000 new jobs could be created through the introduction of a Living Wage.

The Living Wage pays just enough to provide a decent life for workers and their families. Taxpayers’ should not be forced to subsidise Scrooge employers by picking up the bill for in-work benefits. Opponents of the minimum wage forecast massive job losses when it was brought in, but the opposite was true – it acted as a real stimulus to the economy.”

Fact: The taxpayer is subsidising poverty wages to the tune of £3.6bn per year, including £1.1bn in means tested benefits.

New Living Wage - UNISON reaction


New Living Wage rate

The new Living Wage rate has been announced It has increased to £7.65 per hour and to £8.80 per hour in London.

This means that even more low paid workers are falling way below the Living Wage rate.


Living Wage Week

This is Living Wage week (3-9 November) and there are events around the region to support and promote the campaign.  

UNISON Northern Region has put together a short YouTube video about the Living Wage and has also launched a weekly Living Wage newsletter.

The following are North East accredited Living Wage employers: 

*Aquila Way, *Children North East, *Consult and Design International, *Fabrick Housing Group, *Four Housing, *Involve North East, *Livin, *Riverside Community Health Project, *Scotswood Natural Community Garden, *Vela Group, *Vocare Group, *Waddington Street Centre.

Watch the video

Read the newsletter

Events timetable 



New on Site


Learning at Work Week

15-21 May 2017. The theme this year is Curious and Creative for Learning at Work Week.

Distance Courses

Starting 24 April 2017, these courses can be done online or paper based.


NEC Elections

Branch nominations and ballot details.

'There For You’ Newsletter

This newsletter includes an update on the changes to the Bereavement Support Payment as well as contact details for ‘Down to Earth’, who provide practical and emotional support throughout the funeral process.


Branch Lottery

Winners in March.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/13

Executive pay bandwagon rolls on

Cycle courier entitled to holiday pay

Employment law changes this April

New minimum wage rates kick in

UK lags on maternity

Merger heralds new teaching union

Consultation on caste discrimination



New courses for members and stewards.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/12

Inflation leaps to 3.2%

More regulation of gig economy needed

Appalling risk of suicides in construction

Fat cats — the great pay divide

Racist abuse after Brexit vote

Lack of diversity at top in Wales


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 3 April.


Regional Disabled Members Group

Meeting on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at 4.30pm.

Misogyny as a Hate Crime

Nottinghamshire Police have taken the bold step to identify misogyny as a hate crime and Northern UNSION are keen for this to be replicated in our region. The aim of the event is to identify how we can move the issue forward across the region with all three Police and Crime Commissioners.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/11

Swings and scooters of inflation basket

No real improvement in weekly earnings

Cosmetic improvement with Living Wage

Zero-hours contracts at record high

Unemployment falls below 1.6 million


AGM 2017

Agenda and annual report.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/10

Economic forecasts in Hammond's Budget

Mixed fortunes in ethnic women's pay gap data

Company merger and acquisitions in 2016

Numbers on zero-hours contracts at a high

GMB take on DX delivery firm

Former chancellor's nice big earner

Charter to stop violence at work


March/Rally for Durham Teaching Assistants

Saturday 25 March. Hear grassroots, union and guest speakers and watch the Reel News film showing the Durham Teaching Assistants’ story.

LGBT Policy weekend

Saturday 25 March, to plan UNISON LGBT activities for the year ahead.

HOPE Not Hate Event

A joint training session for trade union and community activists on how to organise to defeat the politics of division.  18 March 2017.

NE People’s Assembly

March calendar of events and activities.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/9

Trade Union Act regs come into force

Gender pension gap leaves women short

Violence at work — the nasty truth

Bookseller's £7m salary

Money purchase pension are norm

British Gas denied appeal in Lock case

Government fails in ethnicity review


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 6 March.

Retired members

Papers for the retired members' meeting on 17 March.


Branch Lottery

Winners in February.

Workers Memorial Day

Morning seminar and afternoon remembrance service in Hartlepool on Friday 28 April 2017. There is also an Eve of WMD ‘Gig’ on Thursday 27 April.


Labour Research Department Fact 79/8

Government green paper on pensions

A 'Stern diet' for fat cat directors' pay

Employers — don't miss out on talent

Argos repays £2.4 million to 37,000 staff

Economic growth revised upwards

Work fears of disabled people revealed

In the papers

Migrants have helped make Britain. It’s time to celebrate us

NHS at breaking point, according to British Medical Association

Councils prepare to cut essential services to fund adult social care

London transport spending equivalent to £1,500 more per head than North East


Labour Research Department Fact 79/7

Minimum wage cheats named and shamed

Inflation hits three-year high

Unemployment at 11-year low

Inflation erodes growth in weekly earnings

In the papers

Migrants are always the scapegoats. But now they’re taking on Ukip’s lies

I, Daniel Blake is a realistic depiction of life on benefits. Isn’t it?

English social care system for elderly facing 'complete collapse'

North East peers want law to make Government investigate impact of Brexit on region

North East recruitment drive revealed as jobless total in region rises

UK employment growth driven by foreign nationals, figures show

The NHS needs a rethink. Its priorities no longer make sense

Top Labour politicians come to 'UKIP area' Sunderland for Brexit debates and festival

Rothbury Community Hospital inpatient ward closure public meeting this week

Shopping will cost you more as prices rise, but is Brexit to blame?

Campaigners calling for u-turn over Post Office move

UK labour shortages reported as EU worker numbers fall

Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns

Then the Daily Mail came for Gary Lineker, and we said: ‘Enough!’

Brexit survey revealed: What you would do if given second shot at EU referendum

Booming gig economy costs £4bn in lost tax and benefit payouts, says TUC

There will be a shameful betrayal of the Brexit low-paid

Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire

NHS 'pays £7.5m a year for 20 most expensive agency doctors'

Drive to bring health and social care together is a well-intentioned mess


Disabled Members Policy Weekend

Sunderland, 19/20 May 2017.

Members training

Sign Language (BSL) Introduction, 2 March 2017

Dementia Workshop, 30 March 2017

Reps training

Regional Education Calendar 2017

In the papers

A&E in England had worst delays ever in January, leak suggests

Why was Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes the star of Prime Minister's questions?

Number of patients stuck in hospital 'far higher than NHS data shows'

It's time corporate tax dodgers started losing lucrative council contracts

More council housing needed in the North East - government report reveals

Council tax, youth funding and bins: 6 things to look out for from Sunderland budget meeting

TyneMet and South Tyneside colleges merger: What it means for jobs, campuses and its new name?

Labour Research Department Fact 79/6

Review of tribunal fees finally published

Plan to tackle abusive hiring practices

Insecure work on rise

Twenty eight directors share £68.37 million


Affiliations and donations

A list of affiliations and donations that the branch committee has approved since January 2015.


In the papers

UK faces return to inequality of Thatcher years, says report

NHS ID scheme could deter eligible patients, say MPs

Councils may cut social care provision due to underfunding, LGA says

Nursery schools: ‘What society gives children less chance than their parents?’

Council tax rise planned for Northumberland residents as authority faces £36m cuts

'Trump can't hack Trebs' - the best signs from Newcastle anti-Trump demonstration

Labour Research Department Fact 79/5

Racism at work

Economy grows but there's a shortfall

Advice on gender pay gap from Acas

Tories offer no solution on discrimination

Eight assaults a day in Welsh schools


A quarterly periodical updating branch reps on employment law.


Branch Lottery

Winners in January.


Young Members

Northern Region Young Members AGM

Black Members

UNISON Northern Region Black Members Forum AGM 2017.

LV Car Insurance

Discounted car insurance for UNISON members.


North East March and Rally for #ourNHS

In Newcastle on Saturday 4 February.

Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on 6 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/4

Death by a thousand fire service cuts

Guidance on stress

Modern-day slave traders jailed

Fees let bad bosses get off scot free

Top-ranked inclusive employers 2017

Get tough on pay, says pension funds


Women's Network AGM

Agenda and nomination form for the mmeting on 4 February.

Disabled Members

Annual Meeting of the Regional Disabled Members Self Organised Group on Tuesday 31 January 2017.

Members training

Mental Health Awareness Workshop on Thursday 16 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/3

Wales to ditch parts of 2016 Trade Union Act

Inflation rates at highest since 2014

Retail inflation eating into earnings growth

UK unemployment at nine-year low

In the Papers

Public sector pay poised to fall by thousands in real terms, TUC says

May’s promise on workers’ rights is hollow if she doesn’t get a deal

NHS crisis: the one act of self-sacrifice that could rescue our health service

Politicians have ignored the working class for too long

World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Crisis, what NHS crisis? Theresa May must stop this denial

Welsh government tables bill to overturn Trade Union Act


Anne Frank Trust Exhibition

UNISON have now been allocated two spots on the 16 January to have guided tours around the Anne Frank exhibition. 

Labour Research Department Fact 79/2

Courier's tribunal win against CitySprint

TUC warns over Brexit threat to workers' rights

Lame excuses for not paying minimum wage

High street store fined over safety

Manufacturing output edges higher

Child poverty briefing


Branch Lottery

Winners in December.


The Trade Union Act and UNISON's Political Fund

Consultation on political fund review: December-January

Reading Ahead

We are having our first Reading Ahead launch at Welford Learning Zone on 11 January between 10am and 11am.

Trade Union Reps courses

Book now to secure your place on one of the courses for Reps at Newcastle College starting in January 2017.

Northern Region Training Programme

UNISON courses in 2017. These courses are free and open to all members unless otherwise stated.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/1

'Precarious pay penalty' of zero-hours staff

Plans for a Universal Basic Income

2017 — economic forecasts for year

'Fat Cat Wednesday' has been and gone

Northern Ireland to reveal political gifts

UK's deficit in trade in goods gets ever worse

UK economic growth revised upwards