Nearly a quarter of South Ayrshire employees are earning less than the National Living Wage, it has been revealed.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) almost one in five Scots is paid less than £7.85, putting South Ayrshire below the already poor national average.
It is rural areas in particular which are struggling to reach the living wage.
MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, Corri Wilson is calling on local businesses to step up to the challenge of low pay as it emerged that one in four workers in Ayrshire is earning less than the living wage.
She said: “There has been some real progress across Scotland with employers recognising the benefits of paying the living wage, but these figures show that there is still some way to go in easing in-work poverty in our rural communities.
“There also needs to be no doubt that the higher national minimum wage announced in the Chancellor’s budget is not, and should not be called a living wage.
“Not only does it discriminate against the under 25s, for the majority of households it will not be sufficient to offset the cuts in tax credits announced in the budget.
“As new jobs are created it is important they pay enough to provide people with a decent standard of living, and employers already signed up to paying their staff the living wage are reporting increased staff morale, reduced absenteeism and higher levels of productivity.”
A spokesperson from HM Treasury said: “At the Budget the Chancellor announced a new settlement for Britain.
“One that moves us to a higher wage, lower tax and lower welfare economy backed by a new National Living Wage - ensuring work always pays and the majority of working households are better off. The independent office for budget responsibility expect the National Living Wage to give a direct boost in wages for 2.7 million low wage workers, with up to six million seeing their pay rise as the knock-on effects are felt higher up the earnings scale.
“But that is not all. We are also helping children and families by introducing thirty hours of free child care for all working parents, worth thousands of pounds a year, to support them into work.”