Real living wages have risen sharply, but one economist believes the main focus must be on boosting the Scottish economy.
Tariffs accredited by the Living Wage Foundation have shown that nearly 400,000 workers across the UK have benefited from increases in real voluntary wages.
Hourly rates will rise by £1 nationwide to £10.90 – higher than the statutory £9.50 an hour for adults – and will be paid by more than 11,000 employers accredited by the Foundation.
While those figures are generally announced in November, they have been brought forward in recognition of the sharp rise in the cost of living over the past year, the foundation said.
Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “With the cost of living rising so rapidly, millions are faced with the dreadful choice of ‘heat or eat’ this winter – making a real living wage more important than ever.
Alluding to the “incredibly difficult times” facing workers across the country, she said the rates are aimed at providing financial security for workers and their families.
“We know that the living wage is good for both employers and employees, so the real living wage must remain at the heart of solutions to the cost-of-living crisis,” Ms Chapman said.
However, economist John McLaren said a long-term plan must require a focus to address Scotland’s lower rates of economic growth compared to the rest of the UK.
In an article for Gordon Brown’s think-tank Our Scottish Future, Mr McLaren said the Scottish Government’s latest plan for economic transformation was “immature”.
He explained that Scotland’s per capita GDP growth has grown at half the rate of the UK as a whole since 2014.
The report finds that economic development spending in Scotland is higher than the UK average, but says this does not translate into higher productivity or growth.
He recommends increasing the Scottish National Investment Bank’s budget and focusing its tasks.
Mr McLaren’s paper also says there should be a new Scottish ‘Treasury’ department to improve spending prioritization, introduce more growth incentives and enforce better value for money.
He said: “The most important recommendation is a consistent and long-term approach to economic growth policies, as few of the recommendations will make a difference here quickly.
“Rather, they have the ability to make a difference over time, as has been experienced in other countries that have taken a patient approach.
“The alternative approach, hacking and changing over time and with resources widely and at times distributed, will inevitably result in known failures experienced in the past.”