Does the new the UK national living wage still mean ‘livin’ on a prayer’ for those earning it?

With the UK's new national living wage now in force, Dan Lapedus asks what it means for a generation of low paid workers, and gets to revisit a classic Bon Jovi track...

If there’s one tune that really sums up the UK’s new national living wage (NLW) policy, it’s got to be Bon Jovi's much-loved 1986 hit ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’.

Why? Well, as a measure to improve the lives of low paid workers, it’s sort of ‘halfway there’, but with the also getting higher all the time, you're still going to need a bit of help from above for it to really make a difference.

What is it exactly?

Effectively, it's a new national minimum wage of £7.20 per hour for everyone over the age of 25. The rate is 50p higher than the previous minimum wage of £6.70 – although that lower rate will still apply for those aged 21 to 25. If you're younger than that (18-20), you'll get £5.30.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the UK already has a ‘living wage’ of £8.25 outside London and £9.40 in London, but that this is voluntary, so businesses don't have to pay it. You'll notice that the new NLW is less than this, but it is mandatory, so all employers will have to pay it. Some people have criticised the government for simply rebranding something that already exists.

You'll also notice it only really affects those over 25. Everyone else gets the same as before.

What does it mean for me?

The increase means an extra £20 per week if you’re working full time. So, let’s have a look what you can now do:

1. Go on an extra night out every two weeks. Whether that be to a warehouse club on the outskirts of town, a roof terrace overlooking the city, a classic nightclub where Sourz are a quid, or a good old sweaty basement somewhere. You’ll also still have leftovers for some chips on the way home. Tasty!

John Travolta dancing

2. If you’re feeling dangerous, you could buy six Big Macs a week. Or if you’re feeling wholesome, pick up 20 loaves of seeded bread and have some sort of carb party. Or, treat yourself to 20 large avocados. Maybe mix and match with the seeded loaf for the sake of variety, and avocado sandwich heaven.

McDonald's Big Mac and fries
Image: © Christoph Schmidt/dpa

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