Guest Blog: Cllr Kieron Williams, Southwark Council
Our Southwark council vision is to create a fairer future for all in our borough. We are committed to paying the London Living Wage (LLW) and encouraging others to do the same. We have made this a priority for three reasons. Because we see the toll of low wages on the people of our borough; because we believe a ‘fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay’; and because the evidence says decent wages are good for our local economy, helping to drive up productivity and putting money into the pockets of the people most likely to spend it locally.
Recognising the benefits to society and business, we took the bold step of becoming formally accredited as a Living Wage Employer in 2012. In the same year, we committed to embedding the Living Wage into the council’s procurement process, ensuring the benefits were also felt by those employed by the council’s contractors.
In 2017, we achieved Friendly Funder status - a change that applies to over £22 million of grant funding annually. Shortly afterwards, in Living Wage Week 2017, we co-convened a South London Living Wage celebration to encourage local employers to seek accreditation.
There have been many other great achievements along the way. Our Living Wage Symposium held at the Palace of Westminster in 2016 was a key milestone. This was followed by a report examining the wider context of the Living Wage and the challenges of implementing an effective policy for businesses.
Our Southwark Employment and Enterprise Development Scheme (SEEDS) has supported local small businesses to create more than 100 LLW jobs and apprenticeships for vulnerable young people, including care leavers, with the council paying up to 50% of the young person’s salary.
We have championed LLW apprenticeships, supporting 50 employers to sign up to our Southwark Apprenticeship Standard quality mark, including the commitment within it to pay the LLW to their apprentices. Over the last four years, these employers (including PwC and Transport for London) have created over 350 LLW apprenticeships in addition to the 220 LLW apprentices directly employed by the council.
We are proud of these achievements but we also know there is much more to do to lift everyone in our borough out of low pay. That is why we are committing to go even further over the next four years, including doubling the number of local employers who pay the LLW and establishing Living Wage Zones in the parts of our borough that are set to see the greatest growth, around the Old Kent Road and Canada Water. We will achieve this by building on Southwark’s strengths - using innovation to influence and bring together employers and workers in the shared task of growing a local economy that works for everyone in our borough.
Cllr Kieron Williams, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Innovation