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Diners would pay more for food if staff were on the real living wage, new study says

Money talks: London diners support a better paid industry, according to figures (Alex Haney/Unsplash)
Money talks: London diners support a better paid industry, according to figures (Alex Haney/Unsplash)

Londoners are willing to pay more in pubs and restaurants if workers are paid the “real living wage,” new polling shows.

A survey by the the Living Wage Foundation found that 66 per cent of diners in the capital are more likely to choose a venue that pays their staff well, and almost two thirds (60 per cent) would be willing to stump up more if it meant hospitality businesses increased wages.

More than 3,500 businesses in London are accredited employers today, paying workers £11.95 per hour or more, which well exceeds the Government’s national living wage of £10.42 per hour.

The organisation, which works to see wages rise in London where the cost of living is higher than the rest of the country, said more than 6,500 employees in the capital’s hospitality sector have benefited from being paid the London Living Wage. It said in an announcement that £11.95 an hour or more ensures staff always have enough to live on.

Katherine Chapman, the director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “That consumers are willing to support fair wages and decent work from their own pocket during a cost of living crisis speaks to a remarkable appetite for change in hospitality, London’s lowest paying sector.

“Londoners recognise that everyone needs a decent standard of living, and the real Living Wage is the only wage rate based on what it costs to live. By accrediting with the Living Wage Foundation, hospitality employers can support their employees to live with dignity and take a step towards ending the current hiring crisis.

“I encourage all employers who can to step up for their staff and help us make London a living wage city.”

The new data follows analysis by the foundation earlier this year, which showed that the hospitality sector has the highest proportion of low-paid jobs in London compared to other industries, with 52 per cent of jobs falling below the real living wage threshold.

Today, the sector employs 1.7 million people across 175,000 businesses. Compared to other industries, it also has a higher number of younger workers, foreign-born staff, people from minority backgrounds and those on part-time contracts.

The Living Wage Foundation said the current cost-of-living crisis makes this issue of low pay more urgent. Together with Citizens UK and Trust for London, the group is trying to encourage businesses to pay more and “boost” the quality of life for Londoners, and also wants to improve job security.

Meg Chase, who works at Rosslyn Coffee, which has three sites in London, said: “With the constant and rapid price increase of living in London it’s reassuring to know I don’t have to work more than full time hours just to pay rent.

“As an employee in this physically and socially demanding field, good morale and support from my bosses means I can enjoy coming into work and encourages me to do my best every day.”

Lara Omoloja, the founder of the cookery school Greenwich Pantry, said:  “We are going through an important moment in the hospitality sector when businesses of all sizes have an opportunity to transform the low pay culture associated with the sector.

“It is really good to see that industry clients are willing to vote with their feet and choose businesses that pay Londoners the real Living Wage to reduce the impact of the cost of living crisis that is affecting hard-working individuals across London.”