More firms pledge to pay the National Living Wage.
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ALMOST 200 firms have agreed to pay the national Living Wage in recent months - with more expected to sign up before a new rate is set in November.
There are now 1,800 accredited Living Wage employers, ranging from leading banks such as Barclays, RBS and HSBC to small organisations employing a handful of staff.
The Living Wage Foundation sets the rate, which currently stands at PS7.85 an hour across the UK and PS9.15 in London.
Accredited employers commit to paying at least the UK and London rates to their staff and to sub-contractors working on their premises.
New rates will be announced on November 2 at the start of Living Wage Week, which is likely to see the UK rate edge towards PS8 an hour.
The figures are higher than the National Minimum Wage (NMW), which increased by 20p an hour to PS6.70 this week.
Unions and campaign groups are arguing that firms should pay the current Living Wage rate, which is calculated on costs such as accommodation, travel and healthy food.
Sectors including care homes, pub chains and hospitality, have warned that next April's increase could lead to job losses or price rises.
But a steady flow of small and large firms are now signing up to pay the current Living Wage.
Supermarkets Lidl and Morrisons have recently committed to increase staff pay to the Living Wage rates while British Gas, National Grid, Centrica, Good Energy and SSE pay the rate.
Others paying the rate include RBS, HSBC, Barclays, Santander, Nationwide, Deloitte, KPMG and PwC as well as National Express, trade unions, charities, housing associations and individual politicians.
However, Tim Martin, founder of pubs chain JD Wetherspoon, is one of several employers warning that the National Living Wage could cost jobs, claiming: "We can not make the country richer by setting the minimum wage at an unrealistic level."
Rhys Moore, of the Living Wage Foundation called on "responsible businesses" to pay the UK Living Wage, saying: "The rates are calculated independently and reflect the real cost of living."
There are now 1,800 accredited Living |Wage employers across the UK