London Living Wage – London, UK

Key Insights

  • London Living Wage
  • Adequate pay for low-grade jobs
  • Preventing food insecurity


Many of the working poor in the UK struggle to cover basic living costs, despite being paid the minimum wage set by national government. This puts them at risk of food insecurity. In 2006 the Mayor of London introduced a policy for all employees of the Greater London Authority and contractors to be paid the higher-rate London Living Wage. The intention was to set an example for all employers to pay their staff adequately. As of 2015, there were 700 accredited London Living Wage employers in the capital, including 16 of the 33 London boroughs.


This case study version is from the Menu of Actions (2019). Suggested citation: Halliday, J., Platenkamp, L., Nicolarea, Y. (2019) A menu of actions to shape urban food systems for improved nutrition, GAIN, MUFPP and RUAF.

London city (UK), Shutterstock/Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB

The action and its aims

The Greater London Authority (GLA) pays staff in all its offices and services (including City Hall, Transport for London, London Fire Service) the London Living Wage or higher. In 2019 the London Living Wage, based on evidence on living standards and the cost of a basket of goods, is GBP10.55 per hour. The same minimum wage is required for all personnel working for GLA contractors, such as cleaners and caterers, and 16 of the 33 London boroughs have also adopted the policy (as of 2018). The aim is to serve as an example to employers throughout the capital to pay even low-grade staff enough to ensure they can meet living expenses and put food on the table.

When it was introduced

The GLA began adhering to the London Living Wage in 2006.

Why it was needed

The policy was needed because the minimum wage set by the UK government was inadequate to ensure the working poor can meet everyday expenses, putting them at risk of food insecurity. In 2016 the UK government re-branded the national minimum wage as the ‘UK living wage’. As of 2019 it stands at GBP8.25 per hour for the whole country and must be paid to all employees over the age of 25.

Who initiated it, who is involved

The policy was introduced by then-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. His successor, Boris Johnson, pledged to make the London Living Wage the norm for employees in London by 2020. NGO Sustain has lobbied London boroughs to adopt the policy, using the London Living Wage as one of several metrics for scoring boroughs’ performance in the annual report ‘Good Food for London’. Until 2016 the GLA calculated the London Living Wage. For the last three years the Resolution Foundation has calculated it, overseen by the Living Wage Commission.

Impacts to date

The GLA’s policy mobilised private sector employers to follow suit. As of 2015, there were 700 accredited London Living Wage employers in the capital (compared to 429 the previous year), plus others who prefer to be unaccredited. Altogether, over 30,000 people work for accredited employers.

Do you have an update to this case study?

Contact us

Further reading

What can you do?

Learn about more themes and topics

Share your city’s case study and lessons learned

Sign up to receive updates

Learn more about upcoming events and other highlights 

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Food System

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a significant number of interconnected objectives related to agriculture and food.

Contact details



Related case studies