Celebrating Living Wage Week in Bristol

Kate and Emma from Kate’s Kitchen holding a sign reading "We are a Living Wage Employer"

Since Bristol became a Living Wage City in 2019, we’ve been on a journey towards achieving fair pay for local people. Pay has a huge impact on people’s lives and affects everything from housing to mental wellbeing.

According to research by TUC, last year was the worst year on record for real terms wage growth and on average, people were £85 a month worse off than they were in 2008. This pay squeeze coupled with significant rises in the cost of living mean that having a job no longer guarantees being able to afford basic necessities. 

The Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is based on the actual cost of living and it increases every year. Employers who sign up to the Living Wage are making sure their workers’ wages meet the cost of their everyday needs.

On 24 October this year, it was announced that the UK Living Wage would rise to £12 an hour, representing an increase of 10 percent. With inflation and interest rates still remaining high, this will come as a welcome and timely pay boost for many people. I do recognise that this rise may present a challenge to some organisations, but in tough times such as these, it’s more important than ever that workers are paid a fair wage that covers basic living costs. 

A Living Wage Foundation poster is pictured. On a Orange and White checked background white text reads: "We believe that paying a real Living Wage is key to achieving our values and to being an inclusive employer. We feel it will also help us to remain competitive, retain existing staff and attract new staff." Clare Rddington CEO at Watershed

My first pledge as Mayoral candidate back in 2012 was to make Bristol City Council a Living Wage accredited employer, and I am proud that we have now paid our staff a Living Wage since 2014 and we achieved official accredited status 4 years later. 

The council has led the way for other organisations in Bristol and we’ve since made great progress in raising awareness of the Living Wage movement across the city. I’m delighted that since taking office in 2016, the number of Living Wage accredited employers has increased more than tenfold. We now have 247 accredited Living Wage employers who are based in Bristol and this means that over 3,900 people have seen a wage increase since we became a Living Wage City. Thanks to Living Wage employers, almost 44,000 people in Bristol are now guaranteed to earn at least the real Living Wage.

From left to right Matt Rogers from Babbasa, Claire Harper from Watershed, Steve Bluff from Visit West, Hannah Slaughter from Resolution Foundation and Alex Hearn from Bristol City Council

This week we hosted our annual Living Wage Week event, bringing together employers from across the city to celebrate progress and discuss how we can continue to advocate for fair pay across all sectors. We were joined by fantastic speakers from Babbasa, Watershed and Visit West who shared why they decided to commit to the Living Wage, and speakers from the Resolution Foundation and South West TUC on the impact this could make on the city.

Paying a Living Wage can be good for business as well as people. According to research by the Living Wage Foundation, 94% of accredited employers said they benefited from their accreditation. Paying a Living Wage can help organisations build a stronger reputation, retain staff and increase motivation and productivity. It demonstrates that an organisation truly values the wellbeing of their staff.

A Living Wage Foundation poster is pictured. On a Orange and White checked background white text reads: "As we work towards the #OurCity2030 vision, fair play is increasingly important in ensuring that people can support themselves and their families" Matt Rogers Head of Development at Babbasa.

The One City Plan sets out a shared vision for how partners can work together to create a fair, healthy and sustainable city. Bristol Living Wage City will play an important part of this strategy and will help to build a successful and inclusive local economy that allows people to thrive. There’s still much work to be done and we are now working towards a number of goals to achieve between January 2023 and January 2025:

  • increase the numbers of real Living Wage accredited employers headquartered in Bristol by a further 120
  • uplift the wages of 1,200 more employees in Bristol to at least the real Living Wage
  • ensure 12,000 additional people are working for real Living Wage accredited employers in the city.

All organisations, big or small, can make a difference. 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 livingwage@bristol.gov.uk

Bristol's City hall is lit up Blue, Green and Yellow for Living Wage Week.
Bristol’s City Hall is is lit up for Living Wage Week 2024