A poll of more than 2,000 workers earning less than the real living wage of £9.90 an hour, or £11.05 in London, by the Living Wage Foundation found that 78% said this was the worst financial period they had ever faced. As many as 4.8 million people in the workforce have earnings of less than the real living wage.
More than half had used a food bank in the past year, while 42% reported regularly skipping meals for financial reasons.
More than a fifth of these workers, 21%, said they had no money at all left over after paying for essentials, such as rent and food.
More than two-thirds of the workers surveyed said their financial situation was negatively affecting their levels of anxiety, and their overall quality of life – with women particularly badly affected.
Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation said: “Everyone is feeling the pressure from soaring inflation, but our polling shows that low-paid workers are being hit harder than most. These shocking findings bring to life what it’s like to be paid less than a real living wage during a cost of living crisis.” She added: “It’s more important than ever that those employers who can, step up and provide a wage based on the cost of living.”