Frank Field, the Prime Minister’s former anti-poverty tsar, conducted a recent survey in order to ascertain if Britain’s fast-food outlets and coffee shops pay their employees a living wage.
After writing to 13 high street chains, including Costa Coffee, Subway and McDonald’s, he failed to find evidence that any of them pay a living wage (£9.15 in London and £7.85 elsewhere). The findings have prompted accusations that the companies are profiteering from “poverty wages”.
Seven of the companies declined to reply and the others confirmed that they meet the legal requirements of paying the national minimum wage which currently stands at £6.50.
Field, the 72-year-old MP for Birkenhead, told The Independent:
These companies are creaming [pun?] off mega-profits from the food and drink they sell in this country. Yet it seems they show no interest at all in whether their own employees can afford the basic essentials for their families.
Costa Coffee confirmed that they pay 5p over the minimum wage meaning that staff working there can just about afford to buy a coffee and a cake with their hourly fee.
The national minimum wage is set to be increased by 3% (20p per hour/£412 per year) in October but this just isn’t good enough for some people. Chuka Umunna, 36-year-old Shadow Business Secretary, commented saying:
This 20p rise falls far short of the £7 minimum wage which George Osborne promised over a year ago. Ministers have misled working families who have been left worse off.
Young people in this country not only have unscrupulous, money-grabbing and ruthless corporations hell bent on paying their employees the bare minimum to contend with. Slavery has also been reintroduced in the way of unpaid internships.
Ever feel like our generation drew the short straw? You’re not the only one.