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Central Bedfordshire Council Living Wage

Monday, June 8, 2015

GMB calls for implementation of living wage for local government staff working for Central Bedfordshire Council

A decent living wage is good for workers, employers and society says GMB.

GMB have written to the Chief Executive of Central Bedfordshire Council, Richard Carr, to ask for a meeting to discuss implementation of the Living Wage of £7.85 for all staff working for the authority, including contracted-out services. (see notes to editors for copy of the GMB letter)

The number of accredited Living Wage employers has more than doubled in 2014. Over 130 local authorities in England and Wales are now committed to paying the Living Wage to staff. However, the lowest pay rates in local government are still below the Living Wage, and with three quarters of the relevant workforce being women this is also an equalities issue. Many outsourced staff deliver essential council services on appallingly low pay, as well as zero hours contracts and National Minimum Wage evasion and GMB’s letter calls for the a commitment to the Living Wage to also cover these staff.

Warren Kenny, London Region Senior Organiser says in the letter “People earning less than the Living Wage have found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet over recent years. Their household finances have deteriorate, and their debts continue to escalate. They can easily be overwhelmed by a sudden monetary crisis. We also know that life below the Living Wage leads to a greater risk of physical and mental health problems. It damages children’s life chances. The December 2014 report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the UK, found that the rising cost of housing, food and fuel over the past few years has made it increasingly difficult for low-income households to buy and cook meals. One of the inquiry’s key recommendations is for local authorities to pay the Living Wage and to use their procurement strategies to encourage local businesses to do likewise.”

End

Contact:  Warren Kenny 07843 632 394 or GMB Press Office: 07921 289880 or 07974 251823

Notes for editors

Copy of letter to Richard Carr

Mr. Richard Carr

Chrief Executive

Central Bedfordshire Council

Priory House

Mocks Walk

Chicksands

Shefford

Beds. SG17 5TQ

Dear Mr. Carr,

GMB Living Wage Campaign 2015

This year GMB is redoubling its campaign to secure full implementation of the Living Wage across local government. I am writing to urge you to give serious consideration to introducing the Living Wage in this authority, including all contracted-out services, as a permanent part of basic pay for all staff who would otherwise be below this rate.

There is real momentum behind the Living Wage in local government and the wider economy. The number of accredited Living Wage employers more than doubled in 2014. Over 130 local authorities in England and Wales have now signed up. So have all 32 local authorities in Scotland. We don’t want this council to be left behind.

The Living Wage is a recommended rate of pay that takes into account the true cost of living in the UK. As you may know, it is calculated annually by academics at Loughborough University, based on the items that people need for “minimum acceptable standard of living”. Single-year increases are capped relative to changes in average earnings. In November 2014 it went up to £7.85 per hour.

The lowest pay rates in local government remain below the Living Wage. Women make up three quarters of the NJC workforce, many in part-time roles. So there is an equalities issue here too. Many outsourced staff delivering indispensable council services also have to contend with appallingly low pay, e.g. adult social care, where zero-hours contracts and National Minimum Wage evasion are rife. Even the “Living Wage” is almost impossible to live on without tax credits and other in-work benefits, and GMB believes that a true living wage for most people at present would be in excess of £10 an hour. The current published Living Wage is a step on the way to a wage that staff can live on without benefits.

People earning less than the Living Wage have found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet over recent years. Their household finances have deteriorate, and their debts continue to escalate. They can easily be overwhelmed by a sudden monetary crisis. We also know that life below the Living Wage leads to a greater risk of physical and mental health problems. It damages children’s life chances. The December 2014 report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the UK, found that the rising cost of housing, food and fuel over the past few years has made it increasingly difficult for low-income households to buy and cook meals. One of the inquiry’s key recommendations is for local authorities to pay the Living Wage and to use their procurement strategies to encourage local businesses to do likewise.

There is good evidence that implementing the Living Wage is good for employees, employers and society. It improves the work, family life of finances of two-thirds of workers, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London. Living Wage workers also have significant higher psychological wellbeing on average.

Analysts at the London Economics consultancy have reported “clear evidence” that employers “benefited across a wide range of areas” from the Living Wage. “The most significant impact noted as recruitment and retention, improved worker morale, motivation, productivity and reputational impacts of being an ethical employer.“ Over 80% of employers said it had enhanced the quality of the work of their staff; two-thirds said that employers said it had enhanced the quality of their work of their staff; two-third said that it had significantly improved recruitment and retention; and, a majority said that it had reduced sickness absence.

The Living Wage is also relevant to local authorities’ public-health responsibilities. Public-health experts warn that people need a sufficient income in order to live a healthy life. In a 2014 paper for the British Academy, Kate Pickett, professor of Public health at the University of York, argued that “the single best action that I believe local authorities can take to reduce health inequalities is to implement a Living Wage policy. This will have a direct impact on the UK’s income inequality, which in turn is a root cause of health inequalities and other social ills. “ A recent report concerning local action on health inequalities commissioned by Public Health England urges local government to “lead by example as a major employer” by adopting the Living Wage.

For all these reasons, we would like the opportunity to meet with you and your officers to explore this matter further.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Warren Kenny, Senior Organiser

Maritn Foster, Beds County Branch Secretary

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