Anna Stevenson
Anna Stevenson

Waterbeach and Milton Labour’s Anna Stevenson on “The Real Living Wage”…

The rising cost of living is hitting lower paid workers even harder than the Covid pandemic. As prices rise so do the number of families falling behind on their bills, turning the heating off or skipping meals.

We see some pretty low rates of pay being offered. As a recent Waterbeach Babble post pointed out, a receptionist job at our local surgery starts from £8.91 an hour. 

That’s for someone with experience. Astonishingly enough, that amount is what the Government sets as a legal minimum pay. If you are over 23 that is. If you’re younger, it falls to just £6.56 an hour for an 18-20 year old. 

The minimum wage is calculated by comparison to general wage levels. There’s no consideration as to whether it is actually possible to live on that amount.

It’s no wonder then that nearly half of those on Universal Credit in South Cambridgeshire are in work. One of the highest proportions in the Eastern Region.

Instead, step forward the Real Living Wage. This is independently calculated and is based on the cost of living. It’s currently £9.90 an hour. That means an extra £40 a week for a full time post. 

It’s not just the employees who benefit. 93% of business and organisations who pay the Real Living Wage say their business has benefited by improving their reputation, having better motivated staff and lower turnover rates. 

And it is good for everyone in the area because higher pay means more money spent in the local economy.

I’d like to see South Cambridgeshire District Council become accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. This would mean making a permanent commitment to pay the Real Living Wage and to encourage local businesses to do the same.

Labour-run Cambridge City Council pays the Real Living Wage to all directly employed staff, as well as to agency workers. They have been accredited by the Living Wage Foundation since 2014.

Cambridge Council encourages businesses in the city to pay the Real Living Wage. There are around 75 accredited Real Living Wage employers in Cambridge.

If you want to read more about the Real Living Wage please visit: livingwage.org.uk

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