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Tackling in work poverty

Too many working people are trapped in poverty. What can you do to help?

Work can – and should – be a reliable route out of poverty, but with one in eight UK workers living in poverty, and the cost of living rising, a percentage of your workforce could be struggling to cope. Supporting your people to achieve a decent standard of living is an essential part of good work and responsible business.

Increasingly, responsible organisations recognise that an employee’s wage needs to meet the real cost of living. A fair and liveable wage gives employees a chance to lead a dignified life, with access to the opportunities and choices needed to fully participate in society. And, with 74% of employers paying – or planning to pay – at or above the UK’s voluntary real Living Wage, many employers are embracing the business benefits too. All employers – large and small – can play their part by putting a financial wellbeing policy in place, covering key aspects of HR practice.

Pay Fairness

1. Be transparent about how pay is set and how people can secure a pay rise, communicating both directly to employees and through unions and employee representatives where appropriate.
2. Ensure that all job vacancies clearly advertise salary/wage ranges – this demonstrates your organisation’s commitment to transparency.
3. Pay a wage that enables people to meet the true cost of living and, wherever possible, provide security of hours if workers need it.
4. Remove any barriers preventing people from working the hours necessary to meet their financial needs.
5. Ensure that pay outcome and processes in your organisation are fair – such as by checking the reasons for gender, ethnicity or disability pay gaps and engaging with unions or employee representative groups as relevant.

Beyond paying a fair and living wage, employers play a crucial role in helping working people to escape poverty in other ways. Our financial wellbeing depends on more than how much we’re paid – it’s about feeling secure and in control, knowing you can pay the bills today, can deal with the unexpected, and are on track towards a healthy financial future.
By offering employee benefits that help incomes go further, sign-posting relevant financial advice and guidance, and creating a safe place to talk about money worries, employers can make a big difference to people’s lives.

For someone living in poverty, a route to progress out of a low-paying job can be a light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it’s developing skills, providing clear pathways free of barriers or challenging perceptions, people professionals play a vital role in helping staff progress in the workplace. To do so, it helps to understand why people get trapped in lower-paying roles in the first place. Progression doesn’t just happen naturally – people need a clear path to follow, access to the right training and a supportive manager.