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Bringing Councils together to support the real Living Wage

Bringing Councils together to support the real Living Wage

Projection near St Paul's saying 'No more poverty pay, make London a living wage city'

Councillors and Council officers from 17 London boroughs came together in February for a roundtable to discuss how to ensure staff and contractors receive the real Living Wage.

26 of the 33 London local authorities have been accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, demonstrating the remarkable success of the living wage movement across the capital.

But many accredited authorities recognise that continued innovation is needed to ensure that every employee and contractor receives the real Living Wage. This roundtable was an opportunity for Councils facing similar challenges to share the ideas and experiences with one another.

The attendees included senior officers at a number of Councils, as well as Cabinet Councillors with a responsibility for the Living Wage. Accredited Living Wage employers are required to do what they can to ensure that both employees and contractors earn the real Living Wage. This can be challenging in certain sectors, particularly social care, where Councils are responsible for funding and overseeing care, but do not often have direct control over care workers’ wages. Social care was therefore a subject which many attendees wanted to discuss. Councillor Steve Donnelly spoke about Ealing Council’s increased funding and attention to this issue, and his experience overseeing this as a Cabinet member. Ella Lukos, the Social Care Sector Coordinator from Barking & Dagenham, then shared their approach to increasing pay, progression and staff retention in the sector. Having attendees from so many different boroughs in the room was a helpful way to encourage creative thinking, and to motivate Councillors and officers to prioritise this issue.

Becoming an accredited Living Wage employer is the best way to support low paid workers, but it is not the only step that organisations can take. The Living Wage Foundation shared information about their other initiatives - Living Funders, Living Wage Places, and Living Hours – which allow employers to support staff in their communities. For example, many low-paid workers work unpredictable shift patterns, and don’t have enough secure hours to make ends meet. The Living Hours scheme requires employers to guarantee workers: four weeks notice of shifts; the right to a contract which reflects hours worked; and a minimum of 16 hours a week. The scheme, which recently celebrated it’s 50th accredited employer, attracted interest from officers and Councillors who attended the roundtable.

Local Authorities are filled with hard working people – both politicians and staff – who want to do what they can to support residents in their area. But constraints on funding and powers can make it difficult for them to drive the changes which they would like to make. The Living Wage Foundation offers Local Authorities support and guidance about Living Wage accreditation and how it can be achieved. Ensuring that low-paid workers earn at least the real Living Wage is one of the most important ways that a Council can support its residents, boosting the local economy in the process.

Please get in touch get in touch if you are interested in discussing this further.

Making London a Living Wage City is a campaign launched by Citizens UK and Trust for London, to put £635m of wages back into the pockets of low-wage workers in London. Our vision is simple - we would like everyone in the capital to get the real Living Wage.

Find out how you can get involved below.

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Posted by Olivia Smith on 12 Apr, 2023