Thousands will gain from living wage hike

Living wage week cropped

Peter Kelly, Roseanna Cunningham and University of Glasgow principal Anton Muscatelli at the launch of Living Wage Week.

​40p increase in living wage - now more employers are sought to pay workers the living wage

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2nd November 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Thousands of low paid workers are set to benefit from a hike in the living wage.

The new per hour rate has been set at £8.25, an increase of 40p.

All workers employed by Scotland’s 380 accredited living wage employers will benefit.

The latest organisation to sign up to the scheme – which is overseen by the Poverty Alliance group of charities – is the University of Glasgow, where the new rate was announced on Monday morning.

More big names which have pledged to pay the rate will be announced this week – which has been declared Living Wage Week in a bid to drive the number of employers taking part up even higher.

Monday’s announcement was made by cabinet secretary for fair work, skills and training, Roseanna Cunningham (below, speaking to TFN).

She said: “This is an important landmark in our drive to improve the wages of our lowest-paid workers. With so many employers signing up in the last year alone, thousands of Scottish employees have received a pay rise, and today’s announcement will be further welcome news.

“With around 100 firms gathering for the UK’s first Living Wage Expo in Edinburgh last month, awareness of the Living Wage and its benefits to employers is clearly on the rise and I am confident that Scotland will have at least 500 accredited employers by March next year.

“Scottish ministers will be closely involved with Living Wage Week 2015 and plan to visit a number of firms with more accreditations to follow. I would urge all employers to consider the Living Wage to help both their business and its employees.”

Research has highlighted better staff morale, improved productivity and reduced absence rates as key benefits for employers that pay the living wage.

Lorraine Clark, who works in Glasgow University’s cleaning services, is one worker who will benefit from the uni taking part in the scheme.

She told TFN: “This will make a big difference. It will help with all the things like paying bills and having holidays. It’s great that the university has decided to get involved – and I would urge more employers in Scotland to get involved. They’ve got nothing to lose and their staff have so much to gain.”

New research by KPMG has shown that a fifth of Scottish workers are paid less than the living wage, which is based on a range of a cost of living measures such as accommodation, travel, healthy food and extras such as Christmas and birthday presents.

East Renfrewshire has the highest percentage of workers earning below the living wage, at 32%, while the Western Isles had the lowest proportion at 11%.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance (below), said the main objective is now increasing the number of employers involved: “This rate announcement represents a significant pay rise for thousands of employees across Scotland. There are now over 380 accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland, and we are confident that we will meet the target of 500 by March.

“It is important that we recognise those employers who have chosen to do the right thing and ensure that their staff earn a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. Low wages, combined with changes in the benefits system have trapped people in poverty for too long. We know there is a solution and paying the Living Wage is part of that.

“Well done to those employers who are already accredited. We hope that others will follow in your footsteps in the coming weeks and months.”

Meanwhile, new statutory guidance for the public sector has come into force meaning employers bidding for public contracts – which will include many third sector organisations – must pay the living wage and will be barred from offering exploitative zero-hours contracts.