KPMG economic analysis: Raising the minimum wage to the Living Wage would benefit staff and businesses

KPMG economic analysis: Raising the minimum wage

For the first time, KPMG has calculated the impact of the universal adoption of the Living Wage in the UK.

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KPMG has calculated, for the first time, the impact of the universal adoption of the Living Wage in the UK. In a new report, “The Living Wage: an economic impact assessment,” KPMG has concluded that raising the Minimum Wage to the Living Wage would take just 1.3% of the national wage bill, lifting six million people out of poverty. Early adopters report clear benefit to their businesses.

The Living Wage has been set by the Living Wage Foundation at £7.85 (£9.15 in London). KPMG’s research comes ahead of the Budget on 8 July, with speculation that the Chancellor may look to incentivise companies into paying higher wages for lower paid workers.

KPMG looked at the different scenarios on how the increase might be paid for if all workers’ wages were raised to the Living Wage and at the differing impacts on the public finances (table below). The average gain to the public finances across the different scenarios is just over £4 ½bn of additional revenue from taxes and reduced benefit payments. However, with universal adoption the government would face an extra £3bn of direct wage costs plus higher procurement costs, leaving a net benefit of just over £1½ bn.

Scenario Impact on Government finances Revenue benefit
Other workers pay – employers respond by reducing the workforce or reducing pay No additional impact as the total wage and salary bill is unchanged. No benefit
Shareholders pay as companies pay for the increase through profits Government will gain £6.6bn as a result of higher wages, but lose £2.6bn in corporation tax and £0.2bn in tax on dividends. £3.9bn benefit
Consumers pay through increased prices Government will gain £6.6bn from higher wages Higher prices reduce the volume of spending, but value, and hence indirect tax receipts, are unchanged. £6.6bn benefit
Productivity increases through increased pay The economy grows enough to pay for the increased £12.4bn costs. No additional impact. £6.6bn benefit


Marianne Fallon, Head of Corporate Affairs at KPMG said: “We firmly believe that voluntary adoption of a Living Wage policy by employers, over time, is one of the tools that will help improve social mobility in the UK as well as directly addressing in–work poverty.

“As a firm who has paid the Living Wage since 2006, we have seen the benefits of lower absence and a more engaged workforce. We understand that this is a complex issue for employers and policymakers, but our research shows that there is more to be gained by employers adopting a Living Wage strategy integrated within their broader business strategy.”

The research by KPMG also simulated the effect of a wage increase using the macroeconomic model (NiGEM) built by the National Institute of Economics and Social Research which is used by HM Treasury for its own policy simulations. The NiGEM results suggest an effect on government revenue which is close to an average of the four scenarios set out above.

On the economic assumptions that underpin the NiGEM model, paying the Living Wage universally has no effect on productivity. This may be as workers would simply consider it as the new minimum wage.  However, it is possible that productivity could actually rise as higher pay tends to motivate staff and helps with key costs, such as childcare. Current Living Wage employers have seen a boost to productivity, with much attributed to “first-mover” advantage, as employees really value the premium of being paid a higher than minimum wage.


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For media enquiries, please contact:

Nahidur Rahman, KPMG Press Office

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About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.9 billion in the year ended September 2014. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 162,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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