Thousands of people get a pay rise as Living Wage Places scheme gains momentum

08 July 2021

The Living Wage Places scheme aims to inspire whole towns, cities and regions to pay residents the real Living Wage. In just two years thousands of people have secured a pay boost and the initiative has spread to more areas.

The Living Wage Foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. People’s Health Trust is a principle partner of the Living Wage Foundation, a member of the Living Wage Advisory Council and is one of the funders supporting Living Wage Places. This funding has helped establish action groups made up of local employers in each area to drive the initiative forward.

The number of people in in-work poverty has increased by 1.7 million people over the past two decades. In 2017/18, just under half of all people in poverty were full-time workers. Of around four million people living in poverty, 1.9 million are in full-time employment. The real Living Wage is calculated based on the amount of money people need to live. This is currently £9.50 per hour, and £10.85 per hour in London. Over 7,000 UK employers currently choose to pay the real Living Wage which is higher than the government’s statutory minimum.

Low-income is a key driver of poor health and reduced life expectancy. This is driven by many factors including the financial inability to access household essentials such as nutritional food, clothing, and gas and electricity.

The Living Wage Places scheme has a direct impact on the social and economic factors which impact individuals’ health, it also contributes to strong local economies which can lead to better health within the entire community.

The Living Wage Places initiative aims to build on this success and aims to work with employers to create areas where everyone is paid the real Living Wage.

Living Wage Places schemes in Cardiff and Salford have uplifted almost 4,000 people since launching their action plans in November 2019 and in both places have created strong partnerships of local employers focused on increasing accreditation in their areas.

Since January 2021, the scheme has helped 2,622 workers be uplifted to the real Living Wage across Greater Manchester and Islington. The Salford City Action Group were awarded one of two Living Wage Places awards at the Living Wage Awards in June.

Living Wage Places has continued to gain momentum over the past year. The local action groups have also been focusing on a greater level of partnership work in their communities.

The Greater Manchester Working Group held a roundtable event in January 2021 attended by the Mayor, Andy Burnham, along with around 30 senior people from across the public, private and third sectors in the region. The roundtable discussion was centered on the priorities for the Living Wage City region work, in particular the focus on health and social care as a key part of the action plan.

Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, has outlined plans to make Greater Manchester the first UK region to pay all employees a living wage by the end of the decade.

Furqan Naeem, Community Organiser in Greater Manchester, Citizens UK, said:

“It has been wonderful to see the impact the Living Wage Places has had right across Greater Manchester with the news that we will become the first Living Wage City-Region. The news and conversations we have had subsequently have made Manchester City Council follow suit and want to become a Living Wage City too. We have managed to organise a movement following from Salford to other places in Greater Manchester where campaigners are now getting together to think about what role they can play.”

Over 250,000 people are currently earning the real Living Wage as opposed to minimum wage due to the successes of the Living Wage Foundation over the past 20 years. Living Wage Places is another step in the right direction towards ensuring that everyone can access secure well-paid jobs.

The Living Wage campaign has had a huge impact in addressing low pay the 20 years since it began. But we need the government to replace the National Living Wage with the Real Living Wage methodology and level of pay to truly tackle low paid, insecure jobs as a driver of poor health.

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