The Living Wage – It’s the right thing to do!

Representatives of organisations in the region that are Living Wage accredited gathered at Beamish Museum as part of a week of celebration across the UK.

Just under 50 organisations, from both private and public sectors based in the North East, are now accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, including Sage, Northumbrian Water and Hodgson Sayers.

As of November, The Living Wage will rise to £8.25 from its current £7.85 (London £9.40 per hour). This differs to the Governments National Minimum Wage which will come into effect from April 2016 and will be paid to workers aged 25 and over and will initially be set at £7.25.

Living Wage Foundation Programme Manager, Emma Kosmin, said: “We now have 48 accredited organisations in the region who are all leading by example and doing the right thing on behalf of their employees. While we are very keen for organisations of all sizes to take up accreditation, it is particularly exciting that here in the North East both Northumbrian Water and Sage have come on board. This is great news for their staff but should also provide the stimulus for other organisations to follow by their example.”

At the event, awards were presented to Venture Compliance who won Employer of the Year, a young SME that was set up in 2014 and is using its accreditation to demonstrate its values and what it stands for as a business.

An Individual Leadership award went to Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner at Northumbria Police who is a long time campaigner of the accreditation.

Finance Manager at Hodgson Sayers, Mike Wade who helped organise the event, said: “We aspire to be an employer of choice, so to recruit and retain exceptional employees we need to treat them decently.

“A significant part of this is to reward them properly and enable them to concentrate on the quality of work they do, rather than be distracted by money problems. The moral case is clear, but what of the financial case? In the macro-economic model a money multiplier exists which increases the value of each extra pound placed in the pocket of the consumer, dependant on their marginal propensity to consume. In plain English, if an employee takes home an extra £40 per week, particularly at the

Living Wage income levels, it is likely this will be spent and equally likely that this will be spent in the local area. If £30 of that weekly increase were spent in the local economy, the decision to pay the Living Wage could generate an additional £59 for the local economy!”

Leigh Thompson, Programme Manager at Sage Foundation, said: “We have six million corporate customers and 13,000 employees and realised that by not being Living Wage Accredited we were not leading by example. We want to encourage our customers to get on board the journey with us.

“Becoming accredited filled us with pride and reputation-wise it was the right thing to do. It would have been wrong for us as a big employer not to be an advocate. We have seen that it has made a difference to our employers they feel more valued.”