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Cambridge City Council wins award for its fair pay campaign

News release from 06/06/2019

CAMBRIDGE City Council has won the Living Wage Places Award for its successful work to drive take-up of the Real Living Wage by employers in Cambridge.

The announcement was made at the Living Wage Foundation Champion Awards which took place last night. These awards recognise organisations that show leadership in promoting the Real Living Wage in their sectors, supply chains and localities.

The awards event celebrates organisations and individuals central to the Living Wage campaign: whether that is seeking to do business differently in tough circumstances, by hosting events to encourage others to take up the Real Living Wage, securing contracts in industries with high levels of low pay, or that have done something else to reduce in-work poverty.

Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, accepted the award on the council’s behalf and said: “I am absolutely delighted to accept this award on behalf of Cambridge City Council. We have been committed to working with local businesses to encourage and support them to become Living Wage accredited for many years, and were accredited ourselves in 2014.

“There are 70 accredited employers in Cambridge, who are either local independent businesses or have local offices or branches in the city. We estimate that about 40 of these have become Living Wage accredited as a direct result of the city council’s campaign.”

Cllr Smith added: “We are very proud of our campaign and see this as vital in supporting people to meet very high living costs in Cambridge, which has been identified as the most unequal city in the UK.

“I would like to thank our officers who worked so hard on this campaign, and all the local businesses that are Living Wage accredited. They recognise a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay, and share our commitment to tackling poverty and disadvantage.

“There is always more that we can do. We pay our own staff a minimum of £10 per hour. This is above the Real Living Wage, which we feel should be seen as the minimum. We hope that other employers will follow our lead on this and call on all employers to pay a minimum of £10 per hour.”

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “The last year has been particularly successful for the Living Wage Foundation as we’ve seen the 5,000th Living Wage accreditation. Our awards are an opportunity to recognise the fantastic organisations who continue to recognise the importance of a wage that truly covers the cost of living, and the value this provides for workers and their families, as well as businesses.” 

The council has won two awards previously from the Living Wage Foundation for its campaign. Some actions in the past year that have been undertaken by the council as part of the Living Wage campaign include:

  • Providing advice on the accreditation process to businesses and sharing benefits of accreditation specific to them;
  • Producing publicity materials including a newsletter going out to 4,500 businesses each year;
  • Running an event to mark Living Wage Week aimed at businesses considering accreditation and to celebrate local accredited employers.

The Real Living Wage UK rate is currently £9 per hour and is £10.55 in London. The Real Living Wage is different from the statutory national living wage for over 25s, currently at £8.21. It is the only wage calculated based on living costs using rigorous academic research on public consensus on the minimum income standard. The national living wage, on the other hand, is calculated as a percentage of median earnings.

The Living Wage Foundation offers recognition through an accreditation process for employers that commit to paying the Real Living Wage rates to their directly employed staff and sub-contractors on their premises. Employers that are accredited can use the Living Wage logo to demonstrate their commitment to the Real Living Wage. 

Any employer who is interested in becoming accredited should contact Helen Crowther, Equality and Anti-Poverty Officer, on 01223 457046.