North Ayrshire Council to pay Living Wage increase early

North Ayrshire Council is stepping up its fight against inequality by committing to pay the new Living Wage more than four months early. 

Today – to mark the start of Living Wage Week – the new rate of £8.75 per hour was announced, a rise of 30p per hour on the current rate of £8.45. Although the new rate is not due to be adopted by businesses and organisations until after April 2018, the Council has committed to ensuring staff receive the increase in their next pay. The Leader of North Ayrshire Council, Joe Cullinane, said: “This is a clear statement that the Council is committed to tackling inequality and helping those on low income. “Just a few weeks ago, we took part in Challenge Poverty Week, raising awareness of poverty in our area and what we can do to help those struggling to make ends meet. “Earning the real Living Wage can make a huge difference to people’s lives. As the largest single employer in North Ayrshire, we’re proud to show support for our lowest-paid workers by committing to paying the real Living Wage early.” North Ayrshire Council became a Living Wage Employer last year and is one of a number of local authorities from across Scotland to be officially accredited by the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative. Before today’s announcement of the increase, the Living Wage was set at £8.45 an hour but North Ayrshire Council pays the slightly higher rate of £8.51 an hour, which reflects the Scottish Local Government Living Wage rate. The Council has paid the Living Wage since 2011, but last year became officially accreditated to confirm the authority’s commitment to supporting its staff. It also ensures that all Council suppliers will be encouraged to pay their staff the Living Wage, meaning that private sector workers could benefit financially. The Living Wage is an independently-calculated figure which is updated annually to reflect the basic cost of living in the UK is voluntarily paid by over 3,500 UK businesses who believe their staff deserve a fair day's pay for a hard day's work. According to the Living Wage Foundation, independent research on employers who have introduced the Living Wage has shown: Increases in employee productivity. Greater staff retention and reduced sickness absence. Improved levels of morale, motivation and commitment. North Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Elma Murray said: “We believe that the Living Wage gives employees the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families, hopefully taking them out of in-work poverty. “Being accredited as Living Wage Employer also reflects the core values of our Council and makes a positive contribution to society. Not only is paying employees a wage that supports a decent standard of living a responsible thing to do, but there are also clear business, societal and economic benefits in doing so.” Peter Kelly, Director of The Poverty Alliance, said: “Local authorities play a vital role by setting an example for employers in their area. By becoming accredited, North Ayrshire Council has ensured that all of its employees will always get paid at least the Living Wage. "With more than half of children in poverty in Scotland living in a household where someone works, paying a real Living Wage that reflects the cost of living has never been more important. "I would like to congratulate North Ayrshire Council on their accreditation and their commitment to tackling in-work poverty and hope that other employers in the area will follow suit and join the growing number of Scottish employers recognised for paying a real Living Wage.” Council Leader Joe Cullinane has also called on other businesses to follow North Ayrshire Council’s lead and pay the Living Wage. He said: “The Living Wage should become the norm rather than the exception, so it’s important that as many companies as possible become accredited Living Wage Employers. “It shows they value their staff and the work they do as well as playing a hugely important role in helping to eliminate inequality and poverty - if we all pay a fair and reasonable wage, we can begin to make a real change to people’s lives.”

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