Archbishop of York condemns Government's living wage: 'It is not paying workers what they deserve'

Archbishop of York John SentamuReuters

Many people are not convinced by the new national living wage announced in the budget, the Archbishop of York has warned.

Writing in The Times, Dr John Sentamu says Chancellor George Osborne has packaged up what is essentially an increase on the national minimum wage for over-25s and rebranded it the national living wage.

For years, Sentamu has been the Church of England's chief champion of the living wage and chaired the Living Wage Commission.

He says it is of course it is to be welcomed that the chancellor is increasing wages at the bottom level for over-25s. "But let's call it what it is: a new legal minimum wage for over 25s. It is not a living wage in any real sense; it is not paying workers what they deserve and it is not paying workers what they need in order to achieve a decent standard of living in the UK."

He says the real living wage is what is needed for a standard of living above poverty.

"Not earning this can mean having to rely on a food bank even if you are in work. Let's think about that for a second. Working people should not have to rely on food banks to feed their families."

He also warns it risks setting young against old because there are so many under-25s who will not benefit.

Sentamu says there is a strong Christian moral argument for paying the living wage but a financial argument might prove more effective, because companies that pay a living wage report higher morale and lower absenteeism.