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December 15, 2022updated 16 Dec 2022 7:45am

‘God bless us, every one!’: UK news publishers helping staff with cost of living revealed

Eleven UK news publishers have given staff cost of living payments.

By Bron Maher

After a lifetime spent counting the pennies Ebenezer Scrooge had a change of heart on Christmas day and gave his staff a much needed bonus.

Many news publishers have similarly seen the light this year. Press Gazette has identified publishers in the UK who have given staff cash to help with rising prices (particularly around energy).

Press Gazette contacted more than two dozen news organisations with staff in the UK to ask what sort of assistance, if any, they had provided to staff to help cope with the rising cost of living.

All eleven organisations that responded said they had paid one-off sums to staff, ranging in size from the low hundreds of pounds to a few thousand. Some also said they had implemented general pay rises, and others pointed to pre-existing discount schemes they offered staff or financial literacy workshops they had set up for their workers.

We have rounded up below what assistance publishers have given their staff. If you have information about what help, if any, a news organisation has provided to its staff, email bron.maher@pressgazette.co.uk to let us know. Please avoid emailing from a work address.

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National World: £250, minimum salary rise

National World says from this month it is giving a single support payment to staff at three levels: £250 for full-time employees, £175 for those working the equivalent of three days a week and £100 for those who work less than 22.5 hours a week.

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The company raised minimum salaries to £21,555 at the start of November, in line with the “real living wage”, and provides an allowance of £26 a month to employees working from home at least three days a week with the aim of alleviating higher living costs.

Note: This story originally said National World paid full-time employees a one-off £350 payment; the company in fact paid them £250.

PA Media: £350 and a 6% pay rise

Private Eye reported last month that like National World, PA Media had provided a one-off cost of living payment of £350 to staff making £30,000 or less a year. That was reportedly coupled with a 6% general pay rise.

Reach plc: £400

Publishing giant Reach, which owns local news outlets across the country as well as national newspapers the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star, is giving staff two £200 payments – one at the end of December and another at the end of January. The payments are being issued to staff from any department provided they are making £50,000 a year or less.

As well as the payments, Reach says it provides: loan schemes for season ticket, technology and car purchases; discounts at certain retailers, some of which are supermarkets; an “employee assistance programme” featuring an advice line and wellbeing resources; and a healthcare plan allowing staff to claim back money on health expenditure.

Reach staff went on strike at the end of August to protest a 3% pay rise offer from the company. According to the NUJ a new, accepted agreement will see pay rises of between 14% and 44% for 700 journalists at the business.

ITN: £500

ITN made a one-off cost of living payment of £500 to staff earning £65,000 or less. Some 70% of staff were eligible for the payment.

Like other publishers, ITN has also provided wellbeing and financial education sessions and discounts through an ITN Extras website.

Future plc: 2% bonus and 10% pay rise for lowest salary staff

Future plc chief executive Zillah told Press Gazette last month that all employees paid less than £25,000 was to receive a 10% pay rise and that those earning under £50,000 would get a 2% cost of living bonus. As well as the cost of living help, staff bonuses were to be paid out at 85%, meaning all employees would receive at least £1,095.

The Independent: £1,000

Press Gazette understands The Independent gave any staff making £40,000 or less a £1,000 one-off payment and any staff making between £40,000 and £45,000 a £500 payment. The payments went to all eligible staff, including those currently at risk of redundancy.

The Guardian and Observer: £1,000 and a 5.5% minimum pay rise

A spokesperson for Guardian News and Media said: “In April 2022 the majority of staff received a pay award of 5.5% or above (with higher percentages for those below average pay) and we recently made a one-off payment of £1000 to those on lower salaries.

“We are aware that increasing costs are affecting everyone and therefore our canteen is serving a free main meal each day for all staff working in our London office.”

The company said “those on lower salaries” meant any staff making £45,000 or lower.

Sky News: £1,000

Some 70% of staff at Sky, including those at Sky News, are receiving £1,000 across two payments. The first was in the October payroll, and the next will be in January.

A spokesperson for Sky said: “When it comes to everyday help, we provide our people with access to hundreds of discounts which bring down the cost of things like the weekly food shop, school uniform, general clothing and homeware across the nation’s biggest retailers including Tesco, Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Wilko and H&M. These savings make a material difference to our people, and we know thousands are already making everyday savings through the programme.

“We also hosted a series of panel events in Osterley which staff were able to join to hear practical advice on how to budget, save money and what to do if they’re struggling. Additionally we have a variety of digital financial wellbeing materials which are available on demand for all our people.”

The Telegraph: £600 (plus £600 all-staff bonus)

Telegraph staff are receiving a £600 bonus this month and those making less than £50,000 will receive a further £600 payment. Those making above £50,000 a year but below £100,000 will receive £400.

Financial Times: £1,800

As Press Gazette reported in September, all Financial Times staff have received a single £1,800 payment to help with the cost of living. That payment comes less than a year after all editorial staff received a £5,600 Christmas bonus and all other staff a bonus equal to 8% of their annual pay.

The New York Times: £2,000

But the least Scrooge-y publisher on this list is The New York Times. A spokesperson for the Gray Lady said: “The New York Times offered full-time employees in Europe who earn under a certain amount a one-time bonus of £2,000 to help offset significant increases in energy costs this winter.” That payment went to all regular staff making less than £70,000 a year. 

The payment to European staff marks a sharp difference from the Times’ financial relationship with its US newsroom, which has been locked in a bitter contract dispute with management since its last pay agreement elapsed in March 2021.

No response

News UK, Bloomberg, The Economist and Vice declined to comment. Mail publisher DMGT responded to a separate enquiry in an email seeking comment for this story, but did not address the cost-of-living question.

Press Gazette also reached out to Mediahuis, Condé Nast, the BBC, GB News, the Evening Standard, The Spectator, Reuters, Newsquest, Insider, Time Out, Buzzfeed and Global, but did not receive a reply.

[Read more: UK news industry pay rises for 2022 revealed (PG Salary Survey results)]

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
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  • Retired
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Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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