Funding for Charities and the “National Living Wage”

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2017 Community Service Group Conference
10 November 2016
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that in his 2015 Budget announcement the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced that the establishment of a “National Living Wage” for workers over the age of 25. The rate for this wage was established at £7.20 an hour from April 2016, rising to £9 an hour by 2020.

Conference disputes the label “National Living Wage” being given to a rebranded National Minimum Wage for the over 25s. Conference believes this is a cynical move to make political capital out of the real Living Wage which is set by the Living Wage Foundation. The rebranding has caused confusion for some employers, not least with those organisations which UNISON negotiates with in the Community sector. It is established UNISON policy to campaign for a real Living Wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation, to provide a minimum for all workers in the UK.

Nevertheless, though insufficient, a rise in statutory minimum earnings for over 25s should be welcomed.

Conference is, however, concerned that the Government is failing to provide adequate funding to meet the additional costs of this rise for organisations in the Community sector who are providing vital public services. Councils, health commissioning bodies and other public sector organisations who work with community organisations are often not able to provide the additional funding to cover this rise in costs. This leaves community employers caught between two government policies: austerity and the “National Living Wage.”

This problem is not limited to Community employers providing public services, but has also hit charities with a range of other responsibilities. Conference also believes that the government should be working closely with the sector to ensure these services are protected.

Conference believes that this situation is unacceptable because it will lead to job losses and significant reductions in service quality, as employers try to meet competing demands.

Conference calls on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1) Write to all UNISON reps and negotiators in Community making them aware of the new minimum wages rates, with the aim of ensuring none of our members receive less that the statutory legal minimum.

2) Work with UNISON Labour Link and other stakeholders to gain political support for adequate funding to cover additional costs to the community sector of the creation of the “National Living Wage”. This includes lobbying political parties in positions of power and influence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.