It seems that having a job is no longer enough to guarantee security, and it’s a source of national shame that we have so many workers in our country unable to afford the basics and unable to save for the things that matter to them.
Cutting £20-a-week from Universal Credit is the single biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the Second World War, and working families make up the majority of those who will be affected.
The Real Living Wage is the only wage rate independently calculated based on rising living costs – including fuel, energy, rent and food. A full-time worker earning the new Real Living Wage would earn £1,930 a year more than a worker earning the current government minimum. That’s the equivalent of seven months of food bills or more than five months’ rent based on average household spending in the UK, having a huge impact on households being let down by current government policy.
This morning we hosted our annual Living Wage Week event, bringing together employers across the region to celebrate progress but also recognise the work that still needs to be done when it comes to fair pay. This year marks 20 years of the Living Wage movement, and as we see living costs rise across the board, it seems there has never been a more important time to focus on fair pay.
We were joined by fantastic speakers from Babbasa, Hargreaves Lansdown, Trinity Community Arts, Quirky Campers, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and the Living Wage Foundation. They shared their reasons for becoming accredited Living Wage employers and the current context when it comes to low pay in the UK.
We were also able to share a new video we’ve produced about our city’s commitment to making Bristol a Living Wage City, which you can watch below.
In January of last year, we announced that Bristol had been recognised by the Living Wage Foundation for the efforts of our Action Group in creating a Living Wage City. We are among the first few places to be recognised as part of the Living Wage Places scheme, and the largest city so far.
Since this programme of work started, 65 employers have become Living Wage accredited in the city, which translates to almost 2,500 workers seeing their wages rise in Bristol alone.
Despite progress, almost 12% of jobs in Bristol are paid below the Living Wage. Although I’m pleased to see that this is significantly below the national average, this means there are still 33,000 people in Bristol earning a wage that isn’t linked to the true cost of living.
Fair pay is a cornerstone of a healthy society, impacting on everything from housing to physical and mental wellbeing. Notably, low pay is not evenly distributed across our communities. Women, young people, disabled people and racialised communities are all more likely to experience low pay, and the pandemic has only entrenched these inequalities.
That’s why our ambition is for Bristol to be a city that provides secure, rewarding work and a fair wage for all ages and abilities. This goal is part of our One City Plan – a shared vision of where we want to be by 2050, not written by us, but alongside our city partners.
But paying a Real Living Wage isn’t just a good thing to do for workers, it’s good for business too. 93% of businesses report benefits from accrediting, whether that be improved reputation, better retention of staff or better motivation amongst the workforce.
I’d ask all employers to look at where you can make changes within your own organisations, but also at where you can help us in influencing others in your networks to get involved and consider becoming accredited.
Thank you to our Action Group for their efforts in supporting this work. You can find out more about the journey we’re on and how you can get involved by contacting the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.