The axe to working tax credits will inflict further financial hardship to those working in the six million jobs in the UK paying less than the ‘living wage’, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Monday 12 October).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the proportion of jobs paying less than the ‘living wage’ outside London rose from 21 per cent to 23 per cent between April 2012 and April 2014. The figure for the capital rose by six per cent to 19 per cent – well below the rest of the UK.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “This is a double whammy, not only are bosses failing to pay the ‘living wage’, but these workers are the very people who will be hit by the savage cuts to the working tax credits.

“Three million low-waged families could lose £1,000-a-year or, in some cases, up to £1,700 when the cuts to the tax credits come into force next April.

“The dismal failure of employers to pay the ‘living wage’ disproportionately hits those in low-paid, insecure work and also women.

“Ministers are allowing the drawbridge to be drawn up against the low-paid getting a proper wage and condemning millions to a life of grinding poverty, where putting food on the table is a daily struggle.

“The current rate for the ‘living wage’ is £7.85 an hour outside London and £9.15 in the capital, so you can see the phoney national living wage of £7.20, coming into force for the over 25-year-olds next April, is already inadequate in providing a decent income.

“The ‘living wage’, which is voluntary, needs to be made compulsory and should be £10 an hour – and Britain’s companies, with strong cash reserves, can well afford to pay it.”

New rates will be announced on 2 November at the start of ‘living wage’ week, and could see the UK rate edge towards £8 an hour.