Living Wage becomes reality

By on 29/06/2012 in Deputy Leader, News

Proposals to ensure all Birmingham City Council employees receive a fair pay packet become reality this weekend.

The Living Wage initiative will see the council's 2,500-plus members of staff paid less than £7.20 per hour elevated to that level from Sunday (July 1).

Of those benefitting - roughly six per cent of the entire workforce - 88 per cent are women, working in roles such as kitchen assistants, cleaners and domestic assistants, all of which have traditionally been hard posts to recruit for, with a high staff turnover.

Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “It is only right that our hardworking employees get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work - and up to now that has not been the case for thousands of staff.

“The Living Wage will make a real improvement to the quality of life for those affected, and research from elsewhere where it has been introduced shows that attendance, motivation and loyalty are all improved along with better recruitment and retention of workers.

“We are also keen to ensure the financial impact of the removal of allowances under the Birmingham Contract, for which mitigation measures end in October, is softened. The Living Wage is a worthwhile way of doing this.”

In total, the in-year cost of the initiative is projected at £0.99million, rising to £1.33million in future years, for which the expenditure will be built into the council's long-term financial planning process. The current minimum hourly rate paid by Birmingham City Council is £6.39.

A detailed study is also being carried out to consider the benefits to the local economy and citizens of Birmingham of a broader application of the scheme to cover contractors and agency providers to the council. The findings are expected to be published soon.


Notes to editors

A further 500-plus schools employees also earn less than the Living Wage, and consultation with head teachers and chairs of governors is being carried out, to secure their support to implement the proposal.

The concept of the Living Wage was developed by the Joseph Rowntree Trust, and is the term used to describe the minimum hourly wage necessary for shelter (housing and incidentals such as clothing and other basic needs) and nutrition. This standard generally means that a person working full-time with no additional income, should be able to afford a specified quantity or quality of housing, food, utilities, transport, health and recreation.

Since its establishment in 2000, the Living Wage has been adopted and advocated by a number of local authorities including Glasgow City Council and the Greater London Authority. Private sector firms have also adopted the scheme, including KPMG, Lush Cosmetics and Barclays Bank.

The Living Wage level is reviewed annually by Loughborough University every November, to ensure that people are paid at a rate that ensures they can live to the standards originally outlined by the Joseph Rowntree Trust.

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