This week is Living Wage Week and to mark it Ealing Council has announced that it will offer local businesses up to £200,000 in business rate relief if they pay their employees the Living Wage and become accredited Living Wage employers.
The Living Wage is a minimum hourly rate of pay set annually by the independent Living Wage Foundation that employers are voluntarily encouraged to pay their workers. The amount is calculated by working out what it actually costs a family to live with dignity and meet all their basic needs. The London Living Wage is currently £9.40 ph and Ealing Council has paid this or more to all its direct employees since 2007 and in 2013 became an accredited Living Wage employer to work towards getting all our contractors to also pay the Living Wage.
The Tories have cynically muddied the waters when their rival national living wage was announced in the summer which is in fact the national minimum wage by a different name. The national minimum wage is currently £6.70 for those 21 and over and in April 2016 under its new national living wage name will rise to £7.20 for those 25 and over - a full £2.20 below the real living wage. The Tories national living wage is not based on what it actually costs a family to live but is based on what the 'market' can bare.
In Ealing more than 25% of jobs are low paid and in addition to the Council we have only a handful of accredited Living Wage employers. As a result there are significant numbers of working families and their children living in poverty in Ealing on poverty wages. That is why we have acted as a Labour Council to give local businesses a financial incentive to pay the real living wage. With working tax credits being shamefully cut by the Tories we need a real living wage now and Ealing's Labour Council will do all it can to deliver it.