Renfrewshire Council’s Leader has spoken of his pride in the area’s Living Wage achievements – but has hit out at “Holyrood Government restrictions” that prevent the Living Wage being built into all publicly-funded contracts.
As Living Wage Week 2014 approaches, Councillor Mark Macmillan has spoken of the council’s success in ensuring that at least the Living Wage of £7.65 is paid to staff who deliver 85% of its contracts.
The council was one of the first in Scotland to commit to a Living Wage for its own staff from 2012 – a move that benefited around 800 employees.
The Living Wage has since been a key part of negotiations with companies who want to deliver publicly-funded work for the council.
One of the council’s first actions was to ensure that companies who provide care at home to elderly and disabled people paid their staff the living wage.
As a result, 300 low-paid, mostly part-time women workers saw their wages jump by 20%. The council has gone on to work with other companies, supporting them to raise the wages of the lowest paid staff.
Councillor Mark Macmillan, Renfrewshire Council Leader, said: “The national minimum wage is not enough to allow families to cope with the spiralling cost of living. We know that 50% of working-age adults in poverty, live in a household where someone has a job – so we need to do all we can to make work pay. The Living Wage is better for business and means that families can work their way out of poverty.
“I’m proud of Renfrewshire’s Living Wage achievements. Not only do council employees receive the fair salary, but it’s a major success that we’ve been able to include the Living Wage for external staff who deliver 85% of our contracts.
“I want all workers to be paid at least the Living Wage, and I firmly believe that including this living wage in all contracts that are funded by public money, is simply the right thing to do.
“Up until now, the Holyrood Government has restricted our efforts by failing to give councils the legislative backing we need to ensure the Living Wage is included in public contracts.
“To make sure everyone in Renfrewshire can be paid, at least, the Living Wage – much more needs to be done by the Holyrood Government to give us the procurement powers and the financial resources we need.”
For more on Renfrewshire Council’s approach visit our Living Wage web page.