Ipswich Borough Council is proud to be a Living Wage employer. Low paid workers need more employers to follow Ipswich's example says Council Leader and Parliamentary Candidate, David Ellesmere.
The first Monday of November is becoming an ever more important date in the calendar. This is because it is the date when the Living Wage Foundation announces what the new Living Wage rate will be for the coming year.
The figure is calculated according to what an individual needs to earn to cover the basic cost of living in the UK. The new rate is £7.85 an hour outside London. This is an increase of 2.6% on last year’s figure and more than a fifth higher than the current National Minimum Wage.
As an accredited Living Wage employer Ipswich Borough Council will now ensure that all its directly employed and contracted staff are paid at least this hourly rate from April.
The Living Wage rate is helping more and more workers as the number of employers signing up increases. There are now 1020 employers listed on the Living Wage website. As a result, more than 35,000 workers will benefit from this year’s increase.
That’s good news, but there is still much more to be done. 5.28 million workers in the UK are currently paid less than the Living Wage. This is a large part of the reason why, despite employment going up, the Government is having to borrow more money this year than last.
A Labour Government would offer tax breaks to employers who start paying the Living Wage. Until then we’re going to have to rely on employers recognising the sound business reasons - better motivated staff, lower absenteeism and employee turnover - for voluntarily introducing it.
The public sector should be leading the way on this. But in the East of England there is only one council in each of Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire which is an accredited Living Wage employer.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these four - Ipswich, Norwich, Harlow and Cambridge - are all run by Labour. Attempts by the Labour opposition on Suffolk County Council to move towards becoming a Living Wage employer have been met by a blank refusal from Conservative councillors.