lewisham-living-wageLewisham employers, the Living Wage Foundation and the Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock, came together this week to launch a discount offer for businesses who sign up to become London Living Wage employers.

Lewisham Council is offering all local business rate payers a discount worth up to £5,000 on their business rates if they become accredited London Living Wage employers in the next financial year.

The London Living Wag​e is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK and currently stands at £9.40 per hour. Employers choose to pay the living wage on a voluntary basis and the independently set rate ensures that employees can earn an ethical wage that covers the costs of living in London. Lewisham Council became one of the first councils to pay the London Living Wage in 2012 and has since worked to encourage other Lewisham-based employers to become accredited London Living Wage employer​​s too.

At the launch event Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, presented Stella Brown, from local crisis intervention centre Deptford Reach, with a Mayor of Lewisham business award for the centre’s commitment to paying the London Living Wage to their staff.

Sir Steve Bullock, said: “Out of all the schemes that exist in London to support employees the London Living Wage has got to be one of the best of them. As a council we pay the London Living Wage because we believe that it is the right thing to do morally. I’d like to congratulate Deptford Reach on their commitment to the living wage scheme and hope that our business rates discount encourages even more Lewisham employers to follow suit.”

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “We are so delighted with the launch of this scheme. We have now accredited over 2,300 leading employers, ranging from small businesses to well-known organisations like Nationwide, Aviva and SSE. The living wage is a robust calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay. The best employers are voluntarily signing up to pay the living wage now and this scheme will help more employers to implement the living wage. The living wage is good for business, good for families and good for Lewisham!”

Matthew Johnson and Sean Canty, from CAM Specialist Support in Forest Hill, spoke at the event and told gathered guests about CAM’s experience of paying the London Living Wage. The working-at-height cleaning specialist is one of only two private sector organisations in the borough accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

Matthew Johnson, Director of CAM Specialist Support, said: ‘The London Living Wage has enhanced the way we view ourselves as a company, and the way we are viewed by existing and potential customers and has helped grow the business. We definitely see a better quality of applicants for vacant posts within the company, staff retention has improved and the staff we have are more engaged within our business.’

Cllr Joe Dromey, Cabinet Member for Policy and Performance, said: ‘We are proud that Lewisham was the first council in the country to get accredited as a living wage employer. But with one in four people working in the borough still earning below the living wage, we need to go further. Nobody should have to live in poverty. We are making local employers an offer. We hope they will take us up on it.’

To find out more about the London Living Wage and the business rates discount offer for Lewisham business rate payers visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/LLW.

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