Friendly Funders

04 May 2017

Next month, it will be two years since we helped to launch the Living Wage Friendly Funder Scheme, aiming to help end low pay in the sector. As the anniversary approaches, we reflect on our journey helping to develop the scheme, and just how much has been achieved already.

Deciding that we wanted to support the development of the Living Wage Friendly Funder Scheme was an easy one for the Trust.

We want to see the Living Wage become the norm, and believe that where organisations can pay it, they should. Working with thousands of charities across Great Britain, we are uniquely placed to support the take up of the Living Wage in the voluntary and community sector.

Living Wage Friendly Funders support charities to pay the real Living Wage that meets the cost of living through their grant-making. Hundreds of charities and funders have already embraced the Living Wage, but low pay remains a real challenge for the sector.  We were already an accredited employer but knew we could do more.

Living Wage Friendly Funders want to see the real Living Wage become the norm in every sector, and for the voluntary sector to lead the way by committing to putting our values into practice and using our influence for good.

As part of our commitment, we support applicant charities to pay the Living Wage to any grant-funded staff posts, across all our programmes. We’re a Living Wage Employer ourselves, and where possible, encourage grantees to become accredited employers over time.

There’s been a lot of interest from the groups we work with and a number of success stories. Organisations like Justice Prince CIC (pictured below), who are supporting residents to deliver a Local Conversation in Longbenton, North Tyneside, have celebrated becoming accredited Living Wage Employers.

It’s worn as a badge of honour. Members of staff feel an increased sense of pride in their employer, and equally importantly, others organisations are taking notice, and seeing them as leaders.   

We initially thought that there might be concerns about how it works in practice. For example, how do you square paying one project worker a Living Wage salary funded by People’s Health Trust, and another, funded by another organisation that doesn’t pay at the Living Wage? How do you pay two people that do the same work and are equally valuable two different rates?

However, we’ve found that this isn’t really an issue at all, except for a couple of organisations, who have shared the salary uplift so they can be fair whilst still working towards paying the real Living Wage across their organisation.

To help groups feel more confident asking other funders to pay LW rates on grant-funded posts, we offered one-to-one support from the Living Wage Foundation and Citizens UK.

A new study, The Living Wage – Employer Experience, from Cardiff University’s Cardiff Business School, shows why and how employers lent their support to the Living Wage; including the reasons for paying, the business benefits, and the positive effects for low-wage workers,

The study finds that 93 per cent of employers feel that they have benefitted from Living Wage accreditation. These benefits broadly link to reputational benefits, a positive impact on human resources (for example recruitment and retention) as well as on the employment relationship more generally, as well as broader business benefits (such as securing contracts). In terms of the potential challenges resulting from Living Wage accreditation, most employers do not report any significant negative effects.

Support for the scheme is growing fast. Large and established funders are now on board including Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief, and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, alongside smaller funders and local authorities.  

Local authorities including Croydon, Lambeth and Islington Council are now Living Wage Friendly Funders, and we are delighted that the Greenwich Fairness Commission has recommended that Greenwich Council becomes a Friendly Funder.

It’s really exciting to see councils and other local authorities’ commitment to support the scheme. Through their funding programmes, councils are in a great position to have an immediate and wide impact on their community and the potential to make the real Living Wage the norm in the voluntary and community sector.

After hearing about the scheme from our Chief Executive, John Hume, Milton Keynes Community Foundation and Staffordshire Community Foundation have recently joined the network, taking the total number of Living Wage Friendly Funders to 24. Together, this collective network funds almost 2,000 charities worth a total investment of close to £800m.

John has recently been appointed Chair of the Living Wage Friendly Funders Committee by its members.

People’s Health Trust remains committed to supporting this campaign. For us, being a Living Wage Friendly Funder is the only option. It’s, quite simply, the right thing to do.


To read the new study, The Living Wage – Employer Experience, from Cardiff University’s Cardiff Business School, which shows why and how employers lent their support to the Living Wage; including the reasons for paying, the business benefits, and the positive effects for low-wage workers, click here.

To find out more about becoming a Living Wage Friendly Funder, click here.

To read more news from the Trust, click here.

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