Lincoln City Council has recently indicated their acceptance of a living wage to reduce poverty.
This idea is not new. In fact, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that by now the living wage would sit alongside the national minimum wage as part of UK working life. It was as far back as 2010 that David Cameron described it as “an idea whose time has come”.
However, in local government in particular progress has been slow.
The living wage is defined as a wage that can support a normal standard of living.
A recent Unison survey showed that about 80 councils have introduced it in some form. It seems there is clearly welcome talk and growing interest, but despite these positive signs 500,000 local government workers – mostly women, many part-time workers – earn less than £7.45 an hour.
Just a handful of councils are accredited as true living wage employers by the Living Wage Foundation.
The interest expressed by some council’s is somewhat at odds with councils’ attitudes to pay and conditions in recent years. Within the public sector as a whole, local government is the horribly poor relation when it comes to pay – with the lowest bottom rate of all.
Only those employees on the very bottom pay point of £7.31 in the NHS fail to meet the living wage target. Police and probation support staff pay scales start at £7.66 and £7.50 respectively.
At local level, unsocial hours premium, car allowances, sick pay and even bargain basement wages have all been under attack, adding to workers financial hardship.
So while talk of the Living Wage becomes louder, workers become ever poorer – in absolute and relative terms.
Boston Labour councillors fully support the implementation of the living wage and congratulate Lincoln City Council for recently introducing it.
We urge Boston Borough Council to join the growing number of councils who are true living wage employers.