Councillors are urging Cambridge employers to become accredited Real Living Wage Employers during Living Wage Week (6 to 10 November) to support workers and to benefit their organisations.
Cambridge City Council has been accredited since 2014 and, as of October, has committed to paying staff the minimum of the new Real Living Wage rate of £12/hour.
The rate is independently calculated each year by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission to reflect the cost of living in the UK, which remains stubbornly high.
The new £12 rate of pay is 10.1% higher than last year’s rate – representing the largest single-year jump in the Real Living Wage rate. This is because, despite the pace of inflation slowing, the prices of household essentials remain substantially higher than just two years ago.
One of the main factors influencing this year’s rise to £12/hour is the increased cost of groceries, which are up by 19.1% for both London and the rest of the UK in the last year. Similarly, energy costs have continued to rise, by 6.8% across the UK.
In addition to the cost of essentials, the Living Wage Commission takes a number of factors into account when calculating the rate each year, such as the government’s decision to keep tax thresholds frozen in nominal terms, which in effect lowers households’ disposable incomes.
With all of these costs remaining high, the difference in take home pay because of the Real Living Wage would ease some of the pressure being felt at home. Someone aged 23 or over, working a typical 37.5 hour week, would earn £256.75/month or £3,081/year more compared to the government’s National Living Wage. The difference for workers under 22 would be even greater.
In addition to the benefits for workers, councillors are calling for businesses to recognise the benefits of accreditation to their organisations.
The latest UK-wide survey of employers accredited with the Living Wage Foundation revealed that 94% reported benefits to their organisation. There were 22 types of benefits reported, ranging from enhanced corporate reputation, to improvements in staff productivity, as well as having greater success in winning contracts, attracting customers, and securing investment.
Cllr Alice Gilderdale, Executive Councillor for Community Wealth Building and Community Safety, said: “The council has been accredited since 2014, and our accreditation makes such an important commitment to our staff. We will not ask them to work for a lower rate of pay than the rate that independent analysts have said is what people need to be able to cover their bills.
“The cost of living crisis may not be in the news in the same way as it was this time last year, but living costs haven’t fallen back to the levels they were two years ago – they are still incredibly high and continue to rise, while pay increases for many people have not been keeping up. People need to be paid a rate that allows them to cover the essentials.
“For some years now we have been encouraging businesses to take up the Real Living Wage, because we think it is the right thing to do. But it’s important to also recognise that there are tangible benefits for employers too. Employers regularly report that accreditation helps them to remain competitive, to retain existing staff, and to attract new staff – over half saying that paying the Real Living Wage has improved the quality of job applications as well.
“We are eager to support any local organisation considering accreditation, so if you are inspired to find out more during this Living Wage Week, please get in touch with our team and we can support you with the practicalities of applying for accreditation.”
For information about the Real Living Wage, support in applying for accreditation, or the full list of Living Wage employers based in Cambridge, email email@example.com or visit the council's Living Wage webpage.