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Ipswich is proud to be only Living Wage council in Suffolk

The first week in November is when Living Wage Foundation announces what the new hourly Real Living Wage rate will be, writes David Ellesmere.

The new rate is £8.75 an hour.

In contrast the Government’s “National Living Wage” is currently only £7.50 an hour. If you’re aged 21 to 24 the minimum wage is only £7.05 and if you’re 18 to 20 it is just £5.60.

The Real Living Wage is different in three crucial aspects:

  • It is independently calculated each year based on what workers and their families need to live on.
  • It applies to all workers aged over 18 because young people face the same living costs as everyone else.
  • It is voluntary. Employers don’t have to pay it.

However, more and more employers are choosing to pay the Living Wage. There are over 3,500 accredited Living Wage employers in the UK.

Most employers choose to pay the Real Living Wage because they want to do the right thing by their staff and recognise that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. However, employers have found that paying the Living Wage enhances the quality of work of their staff, makes it easier to recruit and retain staff and that absenteeism falls.

For people who are paid the Real Living Wage it means the difference between just getting by and earning enough to afford things like a decent meal, a warm home and a birthday treat for your kids.

Higher wages mean savings for tax payers who are not subsidising low-paying employers through tax credits.

In Ipswich, we have traditionally been a low wage economy. This reputation can make it harder to attract new retailers to the town.

Increasing the number of Living Wage employers means increasing the spending power of Ipswich shoppers.

For all these reasons, Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council became an accredited Living Wage employer three years ago. We not only pay all our directly employed staff the Living Wage, but insist that any contractors providing direct services to the council pay their staff the Living Wage too.

It is still the case that Ipswich is the only official Living Wage council in Suffolk.

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