ACCREDITED living wage employers in Scotland have committed to giving staff a pay rise to £8.75 per hour. The 30p increase is to keep in line with inflation and will ensure pay “keeps pace with the real cost of living over the next year”, the Living Wage Foundation said.

Meanwhile, marking the start of Living Wage week yesterday, the SNP called on Westminster to take action now to bring their National Living Wage up to the level of the Real Living Wage.

The increased hourly rate will be paid by thousands of companies across the UK but research has found 404,000 employees (18 per cent) in Scotland are still paid less than the living wage. Foundation director Katherine Chapman said: “The new living wage rates announced today will bring relief for thousands of Scottish workers being squeezed by stagnant wages and rising inflation.

“It’s thanks to the leadership of employers across Scotland who are committed to paying all their staff, including cleaners and security staff, a real living wage.

“While it’s fantastic that this year alone more than a thousand additional employers across the UK have chosen to go beyond the legal minimum and pay a real living wage, recent figures show 5.5 million people in the UK are still paid less than the Real Living Wage.

“However, great Scottish businesses know that, even during these tough times, not only is paying people fairly the right thing to do, paying the Real Living Wage brings big benefits. Nine out of 10 accredited living wage employers report real benefits including improved retention, reputation, recruitment and staff motivation.”

Keith Brown, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, said: “Scotland remains the best-performing of all four UK countries with the highest proportion of employees paid the living wage or more. This is a fantastic achievement and a testament to our work promoting the Scottish Government’s fair work agenda.

“I want to encourage more businesses and organisations from around Scotland to recognise the benefits of paying the living wage and ensure that employees’ basic wage continues to meet the real cost of living.”

Meanwhile, figures provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre have shown raising the National Living Wage (£7.50 an hour for those aged 25 and over) to the level of the Real Living Wage would boost incomes by nearly £2000 a year.

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: “It’s time for the Tories to get real over the living wage. With prices rising as a result of the Tories’ disastrous Brexit and interest rates going up, it is more vital than ever that we raise wages across the country to ensure people can afford to live.

“The Scottish Government called for the full devolution of minimum wage powers during the Smith Commission, yet this was blocked.

“The Tories must now match our ambition and deliver the Real Living Wage across our economy.”