When Bristol achieved Living Wage City recognition in 2019, it showed how serious we are about addressing low pay and in-work poverty.
Three years on and we have received Living Wage City status for a further three years, enabling us to continue our work to encourage employers in Bristol to pay a good wage.
Our first three years of being a Living Wage City have seen us exceed our targets. The aim was to double the number of real Living Wage accredited employers headquartered in Bristol from 62 to 125, but we were able to achieve 140 accreditations. In 2019, there were just under 20,000 people in Bristol working with accredited real Living Wage employers, now we have around 43,000. As part of our city’s efforts to increase people’s pay, approximately 4,000 people have had a pay rise, uplifting them to the real Living Wage or higher. This is an increase nearly three times higher than expected.
With no signs of the national cost of living crisis ending, earning a wage that is based on the actual cost of living has never been more important. While the real Living Wage will not solve the crisis, providing employees with a wage based on living costs can help provide security and stability for workers.
Research by the Living Wage Foundation in late 2022 highlighted our concerns that low paid workers are more likely to be in financial hardship now than at any point over the past few years. These people are likely to be skipping meals regularly for financial reasons, are unable to heat their homes and may be seeking a pay-day loan to cover essentials.
Clearly earning less than the real Living Wage is harder now than ever before which is why our work in Bristol to encourage our city’s employers to pay a fair wage is so vital.
In January 2019, the City Office launched our shared One City plan, setting out how city partners would work together to create a fair, healthy and sustainable city. Bristol Living Wage City became a part of this vision in January 2020.
Major organisations across our city came together to form a Bristol Living Wage City action group, which has been integral to our city’s success. Key founding partners who are still leading the initiative alongside Bristol City Council today include Business West, University of Bristol, the Great Western Credit Union, TUC South West, and ACH.
New members have regularly joined the group, picking up the work of other founding members during three years of hard work and challenging times. The University of the West of England, Hargreaves Lansdown, and We the Curious are now established key members of the group.
Our Bristol Living Wage action group is the perfect example of how we can successfully work together as One City. We have a strong partnership and clear strategy and action plan to continue this work through the next three years. Renewing Bristol’s commitment to becoming a Living Wage City is both a call to action and a clear way forward to achieving a fair and inclusive economy for all in Bristol.
The action group are proud, and rightly so, of their achievements over the last three years, hitting all their targets and making good inroads into traditionally low paid industries, such as cleaning, childcare, retail and hospitality, with 29 per cent of accredited employers headquartered in Bristol from these employment sectors.
The action group meets every two months to review the approach and monitor progress against targets. The group annually review our city’s journey and ambitions, working together to co-design a new action plan for the next three years.
Looking forward up to December 2025, our action group has five key aims:
- Targeting large and iconic employers in Bristol
- Engaging low-pay sectors
- Supporting small and medium enterprise to commit to the real Living Wage
- Raising awareness of the real Living Wage movement across the city, with a focus on target sectors and peer to peer support
- Developing and sharing practical guidance on the real Living Wage to employers and employees
Our action group will work hard to reach our new targets of an additional 120 accredited employers headquartered in our city. This would lead to an additional 1,200 employees’ salaries being uplifted to at least the real Living Wage.
The national cost of living crisis threatens to significantly impact living standards, making the campaign for the real Living Wage even more important. Bristol has a strong vision for its future as a city that has a vibrant and successful economy, where everyone has the opportunity to both contribute to and benefit from economic growth. A city that is fair and inclusive. Bristol Living Wage City is fundamental platform for delivering this vision.
If you are interested in becoming an accredited real Living Wage employer visit the Living Wage Foundation website to find out more or contact our Living Wage team at firstname.lastname@example.org