Nearly 200 more firms agree to pay Living Wage as rate nears £8 an hour
Almost 200 firms have agreed to pay the national Living Wage in recent months, with more expected to sign up before a new rate is set next month.
There are now 1,800 accredited Living Wage employers, ranging from leading banks such as Barclays, RBS and HSBC, to small organisations employing a handful of staff.
The Living Wage Foundation sets the rate, currently £7.85 an hour across the UK, and £9.15 in London.
Accredited employers commit to paying staff at least the UK and London rates, as well as sub-contractors working on their premises.
New rates will be announced on November 2 at the start of Living Wage Week, likely to see the UK rate edge towards £8 an hour.
The figures are higher than the national Minimum Wage, which increased by 20p an hour to £6.70 this week, and compared with the national living wage announced by the Government of £7.20 which will come into force for over 25-year-olds next April.
Unions and campaign groups are arguing that firms should pay the current Living Wage rate, which is calculated on costs such as accommodation, travel, and healthy food.
Sectors including care homes, pub chains and hospitality, have warned that next April's increase could lead to job losses or price rises.
But a steady flow of small and large firms are now signing up to pay the current Li ving Wage.
This is how the UK's main sectors are affected:
:: RETAIL - High Street chain Oliver Bonas and supermarkets Lidl and Morrisons have recently committed to increase staff pay to the Living Wage rates.
:: FURNITURE - Swedish giant Ikea has announced its intention to accredit to the foundation as a Living Wage employer.
:: ENERGY - firms including British Gas, National Grid, Centrica, Good Energy and SSE pay the rate.
:: BANKING - includes RBS, HSBC, Barclays, Santander and Nationwide.
:: HIGHER EDUCATION - includes Glasgow University, Central Sussex College, Aberdeen University, Oxford colleges St Hilda's, Somerville and Christ Church.
:: FINANCE - Deloitte, KPMG, PwC, East Kilbride Credit Union.
:: HEALTH - Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Total Community Care, Trinity Health, Woodstock Medical centre.
:: LOCAL GOVERNMENT - Burnley Borough Council, Bracebridge Heath Parish Council in Lincolnshire, Wolverton and Greenleys Town Council.
:: TRANSPORT - National Express, First Tunnels,
:: FOOD - Kings Quality Foods, Rainbow Vegetarian Cafe, Booja Booja, Creed Foodservice, West Horsley Dairy.
Other organisations including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, trade unions, charities, housing associations and individual politicians also pay the Living Wage.
Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation said: "We call on responsible businesses to pay the UK Living Wage. The rates are calculated independently and reflect the real cost of living."
Around one in five workers earn less than the Living Wage.