Women and young people working in the sector across Britain are disproportionately hit by low pay.
Significant numbers of third sector workers in Britain are still being paid below the real living wage, a new report has found.
Research by the Living Wage Foundation has found one in seven (14.1 per cent) fall short of the £9.90 per hour threshold, which marks how much workers need to live on.
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic combined with rising living costs has left many third sector workers struggling to keep their heads above water.
Despite increased demand for services, the report warns that low pay is harming workers within the sector and threatening the stability of the services they provide.
Women in the third sector are also disproportionately hit by lower wages, with 16.6 per cent paid below the real living wage, compared to 10.3 per cent of men.
In addition, 71.3 per cent of all below real living wage jobs in the third sector are held by women, while 25.7 per cent of part-time jobs are paid less than the real living wage compared to 8.2 per cent of full-time jobs.
Young people are also paid less, according to the report, with 58.4 per cent of 16–19-year-olds being paid less than the real living wage, as are 34.9 per cent of those aged 20-24.
However, the public also overwhelmingly backed a wage rise for third sector staff among the cost of living crisis, with three-quarter supporting all staff being given the real living wage.
Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “Many low paid third sector workers faced enormous pressures to make sure the most vulnerable people in society were supported during the pandemic.
“Now, despite already struggling to keep their heads above water, the 1 in 7 third sector workers still paid below the real living wage face being swept away by the rising tide of high living costs.
“Everybody needs a wage that meets their everyday needs, but it can’t be right that so many of those who look after our loved ones and the most vulnerable in society are struggling to afford even the basics.”
The report, All work and low pay? The Third Sector and the real Living Wage, is based on analysis of data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and quarterly Labour Force Surveys (LFS).
In addition, the Living Wage Foundation commissioned Savanta ComRes to carry out polling of 2,156 UK adults between 22-24 April 2022 to explore public attitudes to third sector workers.
The report provides a number of next steps and recommendations for third sector employers, funders, sector bodies and local authorities to tackle low pay in the sector and improve working conditions.
These include becoming an accredited living wage employer, championing the living wage across relevant networks, accrediting as a Living Hours employer, and for funders to offer long-term and targeted funding models to enable a better future for workers.
The report coincides with the recent announcement that the Living Wage Foundation will bring forward the announcement of the living wage rates for 2022-23 from November to September, to allow employers to implement them sooner to provide workers and families with security during the cost-of-living crisis.
Ms Chapman added: “We strongly encourage all those third sector employers that can afford to do so to commit to pay a real living wage and for funders to provide enough to support real Living Wage jobs through the grant-making process. The real living wage is a lifeline for workers during these difficult times – and will help ensure a sustainable and resilient sector in the future.”