Council encourages businesses to help tackle poverty for Living Wage Week

News release from 05/11/2018

TO MARK Living Wage Week Cambridge City Council is asking employers to help tackle poverty in Cambridge by paying staff the Real Living Wage and by encouraging employees to support local voluntary and community sector projects too.

The council is holding an event for businesses at Westminster College in Madingley Road between 5pm and 7.30pm on Thursday 8 November to celebrate Living Wage Week 2018.

Businesses attending will hear how the Real Living Wage benefits employers as well as staff, and how employment practices such as flexible working can help people with low incomes.

Today, as part of Living Wage Week which runs until 10 November, it was announced by the Living Wage Foundation that the new Real Living Wage rate for the UK has risen from £8.75 to £9 an hour outside London, a sum judged the minimum in order to help people meet living costs.

The rates rise every November in line with costs of living and Real Living Wage accredited employers in Cambridge have committed to implement the new rates over the next six months.

As well as finding out more about the Real Living Wage, people attending the event on Thursday will hear presentations from the Child Poverty Action Group, the Living Wage Foundation, Cambridge Council for Voluntary Service, and the council, about ways businesses and their staff can use their time, resources and skills to help Cambridge people in real need. This includes:

  • Projects working with local residents to develop the skills needed for work, providing advice and information to people in financial difficulty, tackling digital exclusion and more;

  • Businesses donating IT equipment they no longer need, sharing their knowledge in advising voluntary organisations’ board members, or making a financial contribution to particular projects.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, which is one of the now 65 Real Living Wage-accredited employers in Cambridge, said: “The council is committed to promoting the Living Wage to local businesses and employers, with the aim that all across the city take this up. This year the council is running its largest ever publicity and poster campaign for the Real Living Wage to raise awareness that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay, particularly in our city where rents are so high.

“We also want employers to help us tackle poverty in the city and identify opportunities to do so through working with our amazing local community groups. Businesses are often well placed to provide effective solutions to challenges using their specific expertise, and the skill of their staff. We know that many businesses want to play their part in tackling inequality and they can make a real difference to the lives of some of the lowest income people in Cambridge.

“Living Wage accreditation ensures business employees have enough to live off and increases their motivation and retention rates. We would urge employers to get in touch with us to discuss how Living Wage accreditation may benefit them, and ideas around building healthy communities.”   

Cambridge has been identified as the most unequal city in the UK – that is, having the greatest gap in incomes between the richest and poorest households – for two years running. This inequality has a marked impact on the difference in the quality of life between richer and poorer households. For example, the life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest areas of the city is 10 years.

The Real Living Wage is of central importance in tackling poverty, and the council’s campaign for the Real Living Wage is a key part of its Anti-Poverty Strategy.

The council supports other employers through the accreditation process and there are now 65 businesses in Cambridge signed up to the real Living Wage, of which the council has supported around half. This year, new signatories have included Cambridge Women’s Aid, HiTeam (also known as WebWorksWell), Rutherfords Punting and Signet Apartments.

Cambridge City Council takes part in Living Wage Week annually and has been an active campaigner for the Real Living Wage since it became Living Wage accredited in 2014.

Living Wage Week is a national campaign taking place every year where new rates for the Real Living Wage are announced, Living Wage accredited employers host events up and down the country, and leading figures and organisations celebrate the movement. 

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