It’s over a year since we formally announced our recognition as a Living Wage City, and whilst there’s plenty to celebrate, there’s also much more progress to be made.
I was delighted to hear that the University of the West of England and the West of England Combined Authority have both recently become Living Wage accredited employers, and we’ve already hit one of our three-year targets, seeing 1,900 more people uplifted onto a Real Living Wage.
This is a real achievement, especially in the context of Covid and an economic recession. So I’d like to congratulate the 39 organisations who joined the initiative in the West of England in 2020. Each person raised to the real Living Wage gains 59pper hour (that’sover £21 a week, £1,135 a year above the national living wage. The difference that uplift will make to many in our city should not be underestimated.
The past year has undoubtedly shone a light on many of the cracks in our labour market. Too many people find themselves in precarious or low paid employment, and many of those who have worked so hard on the front line during the pandemic still don’t receive the Real Living Wage.
That’s why the Living Wage Foundation are choosing to focus on key workers as a priority group for the year ahead, with an ambition of lifting more health and care staff, cleaners and transport workers out of in-work poverty. I think that’s the very least they deserve, and our Bristol Living Wage Action Group will be seeking to improve pay in key-worker occupations at a local level too.
The moral case for a Real Living Wage is compelling, but there’s a strong business case too. 93% of Living Wage businesses report benefits after becoming accredited – 86% say it’s improved the reputation of their business and 75% say it’s increased motivation and retention of employees, cutting business costs and benefitting the bottom line. Not only that, but more money in worker’s pockets means potentially £2m extra spending in the local economy.
As restrictions slowly begin to lift, and we move into a recovery period that we hope will see our city emerge fairer, stronger and more resilient than before, achieving a Real Living Wage for all will be critical. That’s why you’ll see it prioritised in our One City Economic Recovery Strategy as a key part of our ambition to work with employers to support inclusive growth.
But we can’t do it on our own. We need more employers to get involved and become accredited. The process is simple and there are people on hand to support you through it.
As a city, Bristol does things differently. When it comes to business, let’s lead the way in creating an economy that works for everyone.