Living Wage Week by Councillor Matthew Brown
There is a lot of talk these days about “investing in our people,” alongside recognition that looking after employees is good for business. Often these conversations are focused on training opportunities, flexible working hours or added benefits, but the essential starting point is ensuring that you are paying enough to cover the real cost of living.
Preston City Council became the first employer in the north of England accredited by the Living wage Foundation in 2012, although we started paying the Living Wage from 2009. Preston City Council also encourages its expansion through our procurement practices and works collaboratively with others to do the same. There are now 45 businesses and organisations in Preston who are accredited by the Living Wage Foundation and Preston City Council as Living Wage partners. What this means is that they have all committed to pay their staff at least the current rate of £8.75 an hour and the new amount announced in Living Wage Week 2018. This list includes SMEs, charities and public sector organisations, who are all investing in their people in a real way.
Last week Preston received national recognition for its position of most improved city in the Demos-PwC Good Growth for Cities 2018 index which ranks cities according to a series of indicators of economic performance and quality of life. Employment, health, income and skills are important factors for economic success and wellbeing and we believe that the real Living Wage plays a role in this. We are proud to receive national recognition for the work we have done alongside partners in the last 12 months, but recognise that there is still much to be done.
We are also delighted these achievements are evidenced further by recent ONS statistics showing we are the best council area in Lancashire for people receiving the real Living Wage for people who work in Preston.
The Living Wage plays an important role in community wealth building, and I am committed to continuing to work with local partners to further increase the number of Living Wage employers in Preston. In fact, my goal is for Preston to not just be a city with Living Wage employers, but to in fact become a Living Wage City. However to achieve that ambition, we need more employers to recognise the benefits and commit to paying their staff a wage that covers the real cost of living.