This is a true story - Jon is in his twenties, he works full-time as a parking enforcement officer, a job he has been doing for the last 18 months. Before that he was in the Army where he served in Afghanistan. Jon lives with his partner who graduated from university in the summer and is looking for a job. They rent a small flat, their only income is Jon's wage which is the Minimum Wage for adults over the age of 21, that is £6.31 an hour for a 37 hour week. Jon earns £233.47 a week before tax (a little over £12,000 a year). Jon told me that they can barely afford to pay the rent and buy food. When bills come in they borrow from his Mam or other family members then pay them back week by week. He said it was tempting to take out a 'Pay Day' loan but he knew he could not afford the interest rate, 'in any case,' he said, 'relatives are more understanding about giving you more time to pay.'
The Living Wage has gone up this week by 20p an hour - from £7.45 to £7.65. If Jon's employer paid the Living Wage his earnings would increase by £49.58 a week to £283.05. I asked Jon what difference that would make to him. A grin spread across his face, 'Wow!' he said, 'that would make a huge difference, I wouldn't have to borrow and we might be able to have a night out occassionally.' Lastly Jon told me he and his partner would like to start a family but could not afford to on their present income.
Low paid workers are not asking for a great deal, simply the means to pay for the aspirations that anyone could reasonably expect of life in the UK in 2013.