John Sentamu has attacked David Cameron over the "national scandal" of low paid incomes in Britain, accusing the prime minister of offering only platitudes when addressing the problem.
Writing in the Observer, the Archbishop of York highlighted the "devastating effect" of low incomes, adding that Downing Street had done little to confront the problem beyond offering "warm words".
He said: "David Cameron has described it [the living wage] as a good and attractive idea. I agree. Of course, at the end of the day, though, what workers really need is pay, not platitudes. The reality is that despite these warm words, too few companies have stepped up to the mark."
The Archbishop also highlighted how women are particularly affected by low paying jobs and demanded that businesses to do more to ensure employees are paid a living wage.
"Low pay threatens the great strides that have been made in gender equality in recent decades, because it undermines women's economic independence," he said. "This is a huge loss for them and for society as a whole."
Sentamu, a vocal advocate for the living wage, also noted the failure of successive governments to curb company bosses from rewarding themselves with large profits, leaving little for those at the bottom.
"The holes in millions of pay cheques are being plugged by in-work support to the tune of £4bn a year," he said. "But why aren't those who are profiting from their workers paying up? Why is government having to subsidise businesses who don't pay their employees enough to live on?
"It is a question we need to answer and act on – fast. The cost of living is rising but wages are not. In the rush for profit, and for high pay at the top, too many companies have forgotten the basic moral imperative that employees be paid enough to live on."Suggest a correction