image source: www.telegraph.co.uk
With dicey flat-shares pricey, low wages causing rages, and the underground costing quite a pound, why do we live in London? We grumble about crowded tubes, busy streets and extortionate prices, without doing a thing about it. Even if secretly, I think we all enjoy being sucked into London’s vibrant, eclectic black-hole but what is the actual cost of living in London?
The UK minimum wage is £6.31 and many London workers are on, or close to, the minimum wage. The London Living Wage is £8.80, which for a 40 hour a week job would give a salary of £18,304. This is before tax and when you factor in the cost of renting, bills, travel and general life, you’re not left with much. Despite this, many employers refuse to pay the London Living Wage.
Rented property has been getting progressively more expensive, as aspiring home owners cannot afford a deposit. I write this article in my box-room of my grotty flat-share, in a grotty area, listening to my grotty flatmate repeatedly slam his door for no particular reason. For my pleasure, I pay over £450 per month, not including bills, for this inhospitable shelter. If I was on minimum wage, my salary (pre-tax) would be just over £13,000. Over half of that would be wiped out by rent and bills alone.
London is a city with vast extremes in wages, rent and quality of life, and the minimum wage is sorely inadequate for London life. This month, acclaimed film director Ken Loach, encouraged a boycott of Picture House Cinemas as they don’t pay a living wage or even corporation tax.
It is hypocritical to sell fair trade coffee and then not pay a fair wage. Come on Picture House, don’t ask the people who work for you to subsidise your business! Ken Loach.
For a school leaver in their first job, possibly still living at home, a wage around the minimum or living wage may well suffice. However, for people in their mid to late 20’s, looking to lead a fun lifestyle in the capital, a salary upwards of 25k will be required. If you’re looking to get on the property ladder, and don’t have significant support from relatives, or generous spouses, you’ll need a salary in the upper 30,000’s to stand a chance at saving for that deposit.
Many employers won’t embrace the London living wage, and increasingly pay under the odds, as they know they’ll still get a multitude of creditable applicants. In a previous role I demanded a £5,000 pay rise to bring my salary in line with the national average for that job title. After nearly four months of heel dragging I was offered a £360 pay rise. I defiantly resigned the day after, and walked out chuckling as I joined the other 325,000 Londoners looking for work.
Despite the prices and the inevitable flat-share woes, there is something about this interconnected, pulsating city that keeps me here, indefinitely but happily.
Written by Martin Stocks