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Fair wages for all

Published on Thursday, 29th October 2015

A Question Time-style event, talks, workshops and information stalls will form part of a programme of activities and events for Norwich’s second Living Wage Week.

The initiative, which has attracted wide support from a range of key city employers, is being co-ordinated by local charity Living Wage Norwich and Norwich City Council, which has accredited status as a Living Wage Employer.

Its aim is to push for better pay for the lowest-paid workers and to persuade businesses of the merits of paying the Living Wage to their employees.

Activities are being hosted by a number of organisations including Aviva, The Forum, community-based charity Future Projects, and local trade unions, with the main events taking place from Monday 2 to Friday 6 November.‚Äč

In Norwich, 28 per cent of families are categorised as deprived and 31 per cent of children as living in poverty. Norwich employees are, on average, paid 13.5 per cent less than full time employees in the UK, which means many thousands are paid well below the current Living Wage.

The Living Wage rate for 2016 will be announced at the opening event on Monday 2 November at City Hall.

Councillor Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “Advocating for employers across Norwich to pay the Living Wage is an important political priority.

“We believe it will help to make Norwich a fair city, ensuring people living and working here have a decent standard of living.

“In-work poverty is a significant problem and the Living Wage directly addresses this. Insufficient income, which is the root cause of poverty and hardship, excludes people from fully participating in the life of our city and from achieving their full potential.”

Tony Gammage, chairman of Living Wage Norwich, said: “We believe that paying a Living Wage makes good sense for employees, businesses and the whole local economy.

“It is about moving as many people as possible from the minimum wage and survival onto a wage on which they can plan and build a future. Politicians across the political spectrum have signed up as supporters.

“We are a charity with no political bias and we want to encourage employers to take part by convincing them to become accredited by the arguments for the Living Wage.

“Accreditation is important because it signifies that, over time, all the employees of contractors, such as cleaners and catering staff, are paid a Living Wage when they work on site.”

The Living Wage is one that pays enough for workers to have the opportunities and choices necessary to properly participate in society. It is also higher than the national minimum wage.

Business benefits include a reduction in staff turnover and sickness, an improvement in morale and productivity and, beyond that, helping to ensure more money goes into the local economy.

Currently the UK Living Wage is £7.85 per hour (outside of London), whereas the national minimum wage for those over 21 is £6.70. In Norwich, more than one in four employees earns less than £7 per hour.

It is calculated each year by Loughborough University and is significantly higher than the new national living wage, which will be £7.20 from April 2016.

To access the full list of events being staged throughout Norwich’s Living Wage Week, visit www.norwich.gov.uk/livingwage where you can find full details and a printable programme.