All work and low pay? The Third Sector and the real Living Wage

As previous Living Wage Foundation research has shown, below Living Wage pay is a significant issue in the third sector. While the sector dedicates a large amount of resources to the root causes of financial hardship, sections of the workforce are not paid a wage that allows them to meet essential living costs. This affects workers’ physical and mental health and whether they can remain in the sector. Paying less than a Living Wage affects organisations too – in their ability to attract and retain good staff, the financial costs of sick leave and reputational damage.

Despite this, there is limited attention on the scale of low pay across the third sector, and even less on whom this impacts most or what the main drivers are. The Commission on Civil Society has identified information on pay – particularly below Living Wage pay – as a key knowledge gap.

This report looks to address part of that knowledge gap. It builds on previous Living Wage Foundation research into this area in September 2021, looking not only at the scale of low pay in the sector, but also at who is most impacted by it, the effect that paying the Living Wage has on third sector organisations and what the main drivers of low pay are. The report also identifies solutions available to third sector organisations when it comes to paying the real Living Wage to their staff, partners, and those they fund.