In the UK, almost six million workers are paid less than the voluntary national living wage so it’s welcome news that Lewisham Council has unveiled plans to encourage local employers to pay the Living Wage.
The plans, due to be considered by the Mayor and Cabinet on Wednesday 11 November, would offer a Business Rate discount next year to employers who become accredited with the Living Wage Foundation. The discount worth up to £5,000, would be available to employers who commit to paying all of their staff the Living Wage. Employers will also be offered free advertising in Lewisham Life – the council magazine that is delivered to over 100,000 households in the borough.
The offer will be launched on a visit by Mayor Steve Bullock and local Councillors to Cam Specialist Support, a small local cleaning business that recently became a Living Wage accredited employer.
The Living Wage is the amount required to live free of poverty. It is calculated independently by the Living Wage Foundation and it will be £9.40 an hour in London from next April. This is over £2 higher than the so-called ‘National Living Wage’ announced by George Osborne in the budget.
Lewisham Council was the first to become an accredited Living Wage employer. These plans will support more employers to pay the Living Wage and help tackle in-work poverty.
Lewisham faces higher than average levels of in-work poverty; one in four jobs in the borough pays below the Living Wage. Across the city, there are 1.2 million Londoners who live in a working family but are still in poverty, up by 70% over the last decade.
The Government’s plans for Tax Credit cuts – recently defeated in the Lords – would have hit 15,000 families in Lewisham who would have lost an average of £1,300 a year. The plans would have increased child poverty by 200,000 across the country. David Cameron has not ruled out trying again to force these changes through.
Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham said “we were proud to be the first Living Wage Council in the country. But we want to do more to encourage and support our partners and local businesses to pay the Living Wage too. A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”
Vicky Foxcroft MP for Lewisham Deptford said “I was a Councillor in Lewisham when we introduced the Living Wage. It shows the difference Labour can make in local government. I’m delighted that Lewisham Council are going further and supporting local employers who do the right thing. We will only tackle poverty through making work pay.”