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A screenshot of a newspaper

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Yesterday the Sun headlined:

DARK WAGES Nearly 37,000 Scots workers may have been paid less than the minimum wage last year

BBC Scotland headlined:

Almost 37,000 Scots paid less than minimum wage

Spot the mistakes? Yes, 37 000 ‘may have been’ paid less than the minimum wage is important. Both were reporting on a UK-wide Citizens Advice survey and both stupidly accepted that you could just work out the Scottish figure as a percentage of the UK total because, presumably, Scotland is essentially the same just smaller. So, the Sun headline is more accurate. There’s one for the defenders of the BBC. We don’t see what percentage they used. No doubt that was wrong too.

Note that although it was a UK study wrongly used to generate a Scottish story it then bizarrely ended up on the UK page as if purely Scottish (above).

While the Sun repeated their ‘may have been’ disclaimer, BBC Scotland repeated the sin with:

Watchdogs have called for a minimum wage “legal reality” as figures show 37,000 people in Scotland were paid less than the statutory rate last year.

Now, any 12-year-old will tell you what that’s bad science. You shouldn’t go around writing news based on lazy assumptions like that especially if you think journalism might require a bit of context and a bit of fact-checking. Here’s some:

8% of the population yet 28% of the living -wage employers


Only Scotland and Wales pay the living wage to all NHS employees and Scotland was first to pay the living wage to all public-sector employees. Recent consultation on taxation suggests that this group will also be protected from any tax increases.

Make the NHS a living wage employer says UNISON

Scottish care workers have been receiving the Living Wage of £8.45 per hour since October 2016 and will now [unlike in rUK] receive the same rate for all ‘sleepover hours worked. This will make a big difference to around 40 000 workers. Most are women.