TRANSFORMING Greater Manchester into a Living Wage City-Region is the renewed focus of Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham this Living Wage Week.
Speaking at the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) North West webinar on Monday 9 November, the Mayor told delegates that he plans to convene a group of employers, business owners and others to oversee proposals to increase the number of accredited Living Wage Employers across all sectors in all 10 of the city-region’s boroughs.
In addition, at the webinar the Mayor celebrated the achievements of the 110 organisations in Greater Manchester that have been accredited as Living Wage Employers in the past two years, paying all directly employed and regular third-party contracted staff a wage that means they can meet their everyday needs.
The Mayor’s announcement comes as the LWF calls for a Real Living Wage increase of 20 pence to £9.50 an hour, boosting take-home pay for millions of the lowest paid across the country.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “I want to celebrate employers who are accredited Living Wage Employers and encourage others to follow their lead, making sure their workers are paid a wage that meets the cost of living. In uncertain times, these employers are doing the right thing by their staff.
“I can announce that I will be working with partners across the conurbation over the coming months to make Greater Manchester a Living Wage City-Region.
“I recognise that individual organisations will need to engage with this ambition at their own pace, and that this may prove especially challenging for some in the current environment. However, this announcement clearly demonstrates Greater Manchester’s commitment to the real Living Wage and good employment in the city-region – ensuring that our citizens earn enough to make ends meet, creating an inclusive economy and helping us to build back better.”
Living Wage Week, from 9-15 November, highlights the almost 7,000 employers across the UK that have voluntarily committed to ensure employees and sub-contracted staff earn a Real Living Wage.
The increase in the recommended Real Living Wage, proposed to come into effect in April 2021, come as LWF finds that 5.5 million employees, or a fifth of UK employees, are still paid less than the Real Living Wage.
Indeed, a quarter (24.7%) of employee jobs in former ‘Red Wall’ parliamentary constituencies – the 50 that changed hands from Labour to Conservative in the North of England, Midlands and Wales at the 2019 General Election – were paid below the Living Wage in April 2020, compared to a fifth (20.3%) of jobs across the UK as a whole.
Cllr Sean Fielding, GMCA Lead for Employment, Skills and Digital, said: “It’s great that 270 organisations in Greater Manchester are accredited as Living Wage Employers. But today’s figures show there is so much more still to do. It cannot be right that many of our lowest paid, including many of those who have worked on the frontline of the pandemic in sectors including health and social care and public services, continue to receive beneath the Living Wage.
“The importance of protecting workers from in-work poverty at any time, but especially during this pandemic, is obvious. In Greater Manchester we value and champion our key workers, which is why the Mayor’s announcement today of his desire to make Greater Manchester a Living Wage City-Region is to be welcomed. Live and work here and we want you to have the best opportunity to grown up, get on and grow old.”
Cllr Elise Wilson, GMCA Lead for Economy, said: “Since 2011, more than £1.3 billion in extra wages has been paid to low-paid workers thanks to the Living Wage movement, with £800m going to people in key worker industries.
“As a result of the accreditation of 270 Living Wage Employers in Greater Manchester since the start of the movement, including 110 in the past two years, more than 9,000 employees have been uplifted to the real Living Wage. This has put an additional £20 million into the pockets of low-paid workers. It shows how much we value people’s hard work and we want to support employees to lead fulfilling and productive working lives in this city-region.”
Since 2018, more 110 organisations in Greater Manchester have accredited as Living Wage Employers. They include the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester City Council, Oldham Council, TalkTalk and OVG (Co-op Live arena).
Payment of the Living Wage is a key part of Greater Manchester’s Good Employment Charter, which launched in January 2020. It works with employers to improve their practice and recognise high standards. To date, the Charter has accredited 15 member organisations who meet its standards and 110 supporter organisations who are working towards them, reaching over 200,000 employees in total.
Laura Gardiner, Living Wage Foundation Director, said: “It’s an incredibly challenging time for us all, but today’s new Living Wage rates will give a boost to hundreds of thousands of UK workers, including thousands of key and essential workers like cleaners, care workers, and delivery drivers who have kept our economy going.
“Since the start of the pandemic employers have continued to sign up to a real Living Wage. During Living Wage Week it’s right that we celebrate those employers that have done right by workers and families, providing them with much needed security and stability even when times are hard. These are the employers that will allow us to recover and rebuild from this crisis.”