Low Pay Britain 2022

Think tank: Resolution Foundation

Author(s): Nye Cominetti; Rui Costa; Nikhil Datta; Felicia Odamtten

May 25, 2022

This report from UK think tank Resolution Foundation looks at low pay and insecurity in the UK labour market.

This edition of Low Pay Britain is our twelfth annual report taking stock of the state of low pay. Recent editions have focused on the short-term impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on low paid workers. Those have largely receded, and so here we take a longer view, and look at how low paid work has changed over the past two decades during the existence of the minimum wage in the UK. Recent increases in the minimum wage have successfully driven down the incidence of low hourly pay to equal the record low last seen in 1975. But we find there has been much less progress elsewhere for low earners. Low pay is widespread among the self-employed, who do not benefit from the minimum wage and whose numbers have increased over the past 20 years. And there are several forms of work insecurity – including the risk of job loss, volatility in hours and pay, and not being able to find enough hours – which continue to make life difficult for too many low-paid workers but would be considered totally unacceptable for higher paid workers to experience. Having tackled low hourly pay with an ambitious minimum wage, a policy agenda for low-paid workers in the 2020s should seek to address these problems with similarly ambitious action.