“The evidence is clear. Ending low pay isn’t just good for workers. It helps employers because absenteeism falls and fewer staff leave. It is a win-win policy, that will be pursued by the next Labour Government. ”
Cambridge Labour councillors have joined with Daniel Zeichner to celebrate Living Wage Week and the growing number of employers across the city who are signing up to the scheme.
Looking back on the annual event Cllr Anna Smith, who is the Executive Councillor for Communities and oversees the city council’s antipoverty strategy, hailed the progress that has been made so far;
“It’s fantastic to see so many local businesses supporting the Living Wage scheme – we’ve now got 75 signed up. Cambridge Labour councillors, working with Daniel Zeichner, began lobbying for a greater focus on the Living Wage in opposition, triggering a decision to pay the Living Wage to council staff. However, we knew much more was needed. We could see inequality growing in the city, and knew we had to act fast. So when we came to power in 2014, we introduced funding for a Living Wage Officer and a campaign to encourage employers to sign up. It’s been a huge success, and I was so pleased this year to collect a Living Wage Champions award on the council’s behalf. I really want to pay tribute to the Council’s fantastic Living Wage officer who has worked so hard to promote the Real Living Wage across the city.”
Cllr Alex Collis, who is Labour’s lead on anti-poverty, highlighted the importance of the Living Wage in tackling the growing inequality among Cambridge residents.
“During my time working with local anti-poverty charities in the city I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people working, but still unable to stretch their earnings to cover basic living costs such as bills, rent and even food. Jobs are short-term, insecure and simply don’t pay enough – it’s basically poverty pay.
“We’ve seen rates of food poverty rocket across the UK and here in Cambridge. If we can work with employers to sign them up to the Living Wage scheme then we’ll be able to start addressing some of the underlying causes of these issues.”
As part of Living Wage week, the City Council hosted an event for local businesses at Queen’s College (one of only two colleges in Cambridge, the other being Westminster College, to hold full Real Living Wage Accreditation). It promoted the benefits not just to their employees but also to the businesses themselves. The event was fully-booked, filling the great hall at Queen’s College.
Currently, local employers paying the Living Wage include Jimmy’s, Cambridge Cyrenians, Anglia Ruskin University, Zedify, Daily Bread Cooperative – and Radmore Farm Shop. Cllr Smith and Daniel Zeichner visited the business to talk to them about their experience as Living Wage employers. Ben Aveling, owner of Radmore, was clear on why he felt it was important that they sign up as Living Wage employers;
“When we first heard about the Living Wage award scheme, we didn’t have to think about more than 2 seconds before we joined. Not only does giving staff the chance to earn more improve their lives, job satisfaction, quality of life and morale, it also gives us as employers the peace of mind that come with happier staff and increased staff retention. Our team at Radmore Farm Shop are the heart of our entire business and the living wage is a great way of showing our appreciation.”
Daniel Zeichner expressed his commitment to the Living Wage campaign, which is a key element of Labour’s plans for tackling inequality.
“The evidence is clear. Ending low pay isn’t just good for workers, it helps employers because absenteeism falls and fewer staff leave. Higher pay for low-paid people boosts the local economy and reduces the cost of in-work benefits to the tax-payer. It is a win-win policy, that will be pursued by the next Labour Government and is a key part of Labour’s election manifesto. We are committed to a living wage of at least £10 an hour, and to supporting small businesses to fund it.”