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20 Living Wage Week highlights for 20 years of the Living Wage movement

What a week! After a year online due to the pandemic, there was a welcome return of in-person events, and this inaugural hybrid Living Wage Week 2021 has certainly been a memorable one. From Launch events, Living Wage music videos to Giant advertising boards, the week has been a wonderful celebration of all things Living Wage and a fitting way to begin to draw our twentieth year to a close. 

Without further ado, all that is left is to round off the week by highlighting a small summary of all the brilliant things that took place this week. As it is our 20th year, we thought it would be fitting to highlight 20 Living Wage Week moments.

  1. The state of pay 

Before the week had even begun, we released a report demonstrating the extent to which there was a need for a real Living Wage. Though we have come a long way and as a movement and have uplifted over 300,000 workers onto the real Living Wage, putting an extra £1.6bn into workers pockets, there is still a way to go. 4.8 million workers are still paid below the Living Wage with women and workers from non-white racial groups being more affected. Read the report here


  1. The rate release!

Perhaps the moment everyone was waiting for, was the release of the new 2021-22 Living Wage rates - £9.90 (UK) and £11.05 (London). The new rates were released first thing Monday 15th November. As the cost of living rises, this is a much-needed pay-rise for hundreds of thousands of workers employed by accredited Living Wage Employers.  


  1. Kick-off in Manchester 

Our Living Wage Week events kicked off in Manchester at the brilliant “People’s History Museum.” The event brought together Living Wage employers and community leaders to celebrate the ambitious plans to make Greater Manchester the first Living Wage City region.  
The event was hosted by Lou Cordwell OBE and saw speeches from the leader of Bury Council, Corin Bell (Director of Open Kitchen, who provided a lovely breakfast to all guests!), care workers, community leaders and of course the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, started his speech by calling this Living Wage Week “the biggest and most important Living Wage Week ever” and “a turning point for the movement” … we agree, Andy! 


   4.   The London Living Wage Launch Event 

The Living Wage campaign began 20 years ago in East London, so it was fitting that we’d return to East London a disused Tate and Lyle factory on the 20th anniversary of the Living Wage. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan spoke of his passion and commitment to the Living Wage and announced the new London Living Wage, as well as plans to make London a Living Wage City. Joining the Mayor of London on stage and in attendance were industry leaders, workers and we welcomed some new accreditations: Getir, Persimmons, and UAL..  

    5.  An introduction to our movement 

To roundoff the first day of Living Wage Week, was a panel event discussing ‘What is the real Living Wage? And why does it matter?’. As an introductory event to the Living Wage, it was fantastic to help attendees better understand the importance of the real Living Wage, and what was even more encouraging was the high attendance from both employers in our network, and those yet to join. 

   6. London Stadium and West Ham proudly display their commitment as Living Wage Employers 80m display in the London Stadium. 

Broadcast across 80 meters on the side of the London stadium. West Ham and London Stadium were not afraid to tell the world of their commitment to pay all their workers a real Living Wage. A number of us went to visit it and take photos; the length should not be under-estimated! 

   7. Underground imagery 

We hope you managed to catch our advertising on the London Underground that announced 100,000 Londoners are receiving a pay rise this month, Autumn. 

8.  So many #Living Wage Windows! 

Our ninth highlight is the incredible windows that were in our Living Wage Windows Competition! We saw some creative entries from New Leaf Co-op in Edinburgh to Lowie in Herne Hill. We will be announcing the winner on Monday 22nd Nov! 

9.  We made the news! 

This Living Wage week also saw a record amount of press coverage. From the Metro to the Mirror, the Guardian to the Sky, the BBC to the Sun, the announcement of the new rates saw extensive coverage across all the papers and on TV and Radio. This included opinion pieces - from figures as the Bishop of Durham, the Archbishop of York, and Kevin Hollinrake MP. You can rewatch the BBC Breakfast piece here. 

  1. Northern Ireland joins the movement  

Tuesday of Living Wage Week also saw the exciting accreditation of the Northern Ireland Executive. Though there is a way to go in Northern Ireland in gaining more accreditations and supporters of the Living Wage, this is a great step in the right direction of encouraging businesses to accredit.  

  1. Living Hours strikes nine 

Friday saw our twelfth highlight. As the Living Wage movement grows, we are expanding into different areas of precarious work. Our Living Hours event saw excellent talks from new Living Hours Employers, Edinburgh Dogs and Cats Home and Dear Green, reminding us why secure working hours and shift patterns is so important. Bringing the total number of Living Hours Employers to 9. 

12. Lights on in Blackpool 

Lit up in Living Wage colours, the illumination of Blackpool Tower was a great show of the Living Wage further up the UK.

13. Town crier cries increase! 

Along with lights, graphics, and huge visual displays, we also announced the new Living Wage rates in a slightly more old-fashioned way. On Monday, the Norwich town crier announced the rates to the town, shouting the new rates to those assembled. It was the 2nd year in a row that he has done this! 

  1. Places, places, places  

We were thrilled to announce lots of Living Wage places plans. At the beginning of the week Metro Mayors in London and Greater Manchester announced their intentions to create Living Wage City Regions. These will see a huge number of pay rises across the two cities. They were also joined by Edinburgh and Birmingham who also announced their Living Wage Places commitments this week. new Living Wage places. 

  1. Living Wage goes overseas! 

A new affiliate has launched in the US as part of the Global Living Wage work. Living Wage For US officially launched this week and will begin to accredited businesses in the US and raise up US workers living in poverty onto a Living Wage. 

  1. A celebration of our history 

Twenty years into the movement we are going stronger than ever. The history was a theme throughout Living Wage Week, this was most vividly demonstrated by Sister Una, a campaigner who has been with us since the beginning. Her recollection of stories at the London event about how the campaign begun was an inspiring way to start the week! Hear more about the stories of our 20 year history in this video.   

 17.  A trip to Rosslyn Coffee  

A further exciting moment was the visit to the newly open Rosslyn Coffee with the Deputy Mayor of London Rajesh Agrawal. They have been a Living Wage Employer since their first week of opening and their second café is thriving in the City of London. It was refreshing to see a new hospitality business do so well after the pandemic. Their coffee is excellent too!

  1. A look to the future  

From the Future of Good Employment event on Tuesday to events on Living Hours and the Global Living Wage, this week has had one eye on celebrating the achievements of the campaign over the last year, and indeed the last two decades, whilst also retaining one eye on the future. We are excited to see what comes next. 

 19. Our biggest cheerleaders released another music video 

Our summary of highlights would not be complete without a mention of St Antony’s. Undoubtedly our biggest cheerleaders, the school’s choir performed for the Mayor of London at our London event on the Monday  and released their new song ‘Celebrate’ celebrating the Living Wage at the same time.  We can’t stop humming it around the office. Future Christmas number one perhaps?  

20. A celebration! 

Our 20th and final highlight of the week is seeing the effect Living Wage week has had on workers! With a pay increase for over 300,000 workers, the Living Wage has a huge impact on many people’s lives. This week also saw us reach the milestone of over 9000 accredited Living Wage Employer, and see an extra £1.7 billion be put back into the pockets of workers. We also reached the target of accrediting over half of the FTSE 100 companies which means that if you are a FTSE 100 company and you don’t pay the Living Wage, you are now in the minority. 

We know this week has been a huge success as hundreds of enquiries about becoming Living Wage Employers from businesses have come in this week alone. With all this in mind, the future is looking hopeful for workers across the UK. We look forward to seeing what the next year brings. 

Join the movement and become an accredited Living Wage Employer. 


19th November 2021
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