Living Wage Week continues: Citizens UK launch recommendations for Government
The report calls for the core principle of voluntarism to be protected and for the rate to remain a non-statutory standard, calculated independently of Government.
It also calls for the Living Wage to be implemented across Government procurement and the wider public sector. It asks Government to use the full range of policy instruments at its disposal to encourage, support and incentivise employers to adopt the Living Wage. This includes political leadership, procurement, the planning system, tax incentives, corporate governance, transparency obligations and pension fund investor influence.
It also notes that Citizens UK supports moves to increase the personal allowance for the low-paid and efforts to adapt the benefits system to allow low-paid workers to retain a higher proportion of their earned income, such as Universal Credit. These measures could make the Living Wage easier to attain.
Launching the report, 200 Citizens UK members representing 30 civil society groups came together to call on politicians to show leadership on the Living Wage. Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum attended the launch in Parliament.
The report also commends the leadership of employers who have implemented the Living Wage on a voluntary basis.
Neil Jameson, Executive Director of Citizens UK, said:
"We are not asking anyone to do anything that they can’t afford. We ask that employers who can afford to pay the Living Wage do so. It makes absolute sense for employers that are profitable or funded by tax payers to make sure that their staff – direct and contracted – can have a decent standard of living. The business case is almost as strong as the moral case."
Rhys Moore, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said:
“We support a strong National Minimum Wage which provides a simple, well enforced statutory floor. Alongside the National Minimum Wage the Living Wage provides a more ambitious standard for employers who can and want to do better than the legal minimum.”
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:
“The campaign for a Living Wage is incredibly important. This is not about the heavy hand of Government but about enabling all of us to make choices about how we spend our money.”
Rt Hon. Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:
“People who take the positive step into work should feel that doing so is worthwhile. This principle underpins the Government’s vital welfare reforms, introducing Universal Credit, so people are rewarded for every pound they earn – yet the question of what employees take home in the first place still remains.
Having worked closely with our suppliers, Telereal Trillium, I am proud that the catering and cleaning staff in my Department in Whitehall will be paid the London Living Wage from April 2014. Today’s welcome report from Citizens UK highlights the benefits that this can bring to our society, posing a useful challenge to all of us to consider how and where we might go further in ensuring that work always pays.”
A Department for Business spokesperson said:
“On the basis of fairness and current affordability, the Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable has instructed his Department to raise the wages of the lowest paid contracted staff working at BIS premises across the UK. We hope to report progress with implementing this by Spring 2014. This is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' overall policy to try to increase living standards for its lowest paid staff. The Government supports raising wages to the Living Wage when it is affordable to employers.”