This week is Living Wage Week and various events have been taking place to raise awareness of the Living Wage and the growing number of businesses which have made the commitment to become Living Wage employers.
The Living Wage campaign originated in London’s East End out of a frustration that despite holding multiple Minimum Wage jobs many people were still unable to make ends meet. What made their case particularly galling was number of these employees who were working at some of the wealthiest businesses in the country.
Time moves on and many of those companies are now Living Wage employers. The Living Wage not only helps people make ends meet, it reduces dependence upon benefits and so helps to tackle the deficit, and it even produces benefits for employers. Businesses which pay the Living Wage have reported gains in the form of enhanced quality of work, improved loyalty and customer service, reduced absenteeism, better retention rates and consequently lower HR costs, and improvements in their reputation.
Crawley contains a number of organisations with Living Wage accreditation, the council is one of them, but we’d like to see this go much further. Traditionally Crawley has been blessed with low levels of unemployment, but far too much of it is low paid and we’re working to change that.
In the long-term this means working with other agencies to help change the nature of the local jobs market, both in terms of attracting a greater diversity of employment and working to help ensure residents have the training and retraining options they need to take advantage of new opportunities.
We must also tackle the causes of the rising costs of living, most notably housing. By ensuring that development in and around Crawley provides the town with a more affordable housing market we are working to deal with perhaps the single greatest cause of the squeeze on residents’ incomes in recent years.
The Living Wage won’t solves the deep issues with inequality in our society, but for now it’s a step in the right direction. A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Labour Northgate, Council leader