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Could you survive on the minimum wage?

Published date: October 2016


By Nick Milton

Could you survive on the minimum wage of £7.50 per hour? That's what millions of British workers have to do every week. For an average 40 hour week that equates to £300 or just over £42 per day.

The 'cost of living' is a phrase that is rarely out of the news these days but for many people making ends meet on the minimum wage is proving increasingly hard. Especially when you consider that the average weekly household spend in the South East where The Phone Co-op is based is £595.

More than half of our spending goes on four main categories: food, housing & fuel, transport and recreation. For people on the minimum wage too often this results in a hard choice between eating and heating or between paying the rent and going out.

One result of living on the minimum wage is that many people are becoming more reliant on food banks. There are no official statistics for the number of people who use them but figures compiled by the Trussel Trust put it at close to a million people.

It may surprise you to know that when it comes to food banks many people using them are not on benefits but are in jobs that are low-paid and insecure. Often they are also coping with mental and physical ill health and bereavement. That's why our partners at The Midcounties Co-operative and Co-operative Group both run food banks through the country.

It is also why when it comes to pay, The Phone Co-op is proud to be a Living Wage employer and proud to support Living Wage week. That means we pay all our staff a minimum of £8.45 per hour. That £1.40 extra per hour may not seem much extra to many of us but to those existing near the breadline it can literally mean the difference between eating or missing a meal.


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