Poverty alliance demands radical Living Wage pledge from councils ahead of elections

Anti-poverty campaigners set out solutions to local poverty in manifesto

ALL LOCAL COUNCILS should make paying the Living Wage for staff and service providers a priority for the local elections, according to the Poverty Alliance’s election manifesto.

The charity today (Friday 21 April) included the proposal in its published manifesto for the upcoming local council elections with its recommendations for what should be done at a local level to tackle poverty.

Its suggestions include policies such as the provision of high quality, affordable childcare and universal access to free breakfast clubs in schools for children from deprived backgrounds.

More employers and councils paying the Living Wage would, it claimed, help to stem the corrosive effect of poverty in Scotland’s local authorities with only 13 of the country’s 32 councils currently Living Wage accredited.

There are currently 777 employees across Scotland paying the Living Wage, which the Scottish Government set at £8.45 in late 2016.

“It is possible that productivity could actually rise as higher pay tends to motivate staff and helps with key costs, such as childcare.” KPMG

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “Too often anti-poverty work is focused on the national when there are many things that can be done at local level.

“People on low incomes are more likely to rely on council services and it is therefore important that these services work in a way that benefits people.  They must be accessible, flexible and treat people with the dignity and respect that they require.

“Local authorities also employ a significant number of people across Scotland, both directly and indirectly through supply chains.  We therefore want to see all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities seek Living Wage accreditation to ensure that everyone who is paid through council money receives at least the Living Wage.

“People on low incomes are more likely to rely on council services and it is therefore important that these services work in a way that benefits people.” Peter Kelly

“There is already good anti-poverty work happening at local authority level in Scotland, and our manifesto sets out how this can be built on.”

The Poverty Alliance was additionally bruising in its critique of Glasgow City Council, which it damned for increasing the cost of breakfast clubs from £1 to £2 in the Glasgow City Council 2016 budget, and stated that it should be reversed.

Analysis carried out by accounting firm KPMG focused on the benefits of the real Living Wage on the economy and lives of workers across the UK.

It stated: “It is possible that productivity could actually rise as higher pay tends to motivate staff and helps with key costs, such as childcare. Current Living Wage employers have seen a boost to productivity, with much attributed to “first-mover” advantage, as employees really value the premium of being paid a higher than minimum wage.”

Picture courtesy of The Poverty Alliance

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