Council decision helps mark 20 years of the real living wage

North Northants council announce they’ll pay staff the real living wage in the run up to Living Wage Week 2021

Living Wage Week 2021 will run from 15-21 November and mark 20 years of the ‘real living wage’ (RLW).

Through the week, events will be held across the UK to celebrate the successes of the wage over the last year. Currently over 7,000 UK employers voluntarily pay the RLW which currently stands at £10.85 in London and £9.50 elsewhere in the UK.

Each year, the Living Wage Foundation publishes the new RLW based on what employees and their families need to live, rather than the ‘national living wage’ (NLW), which is based on the Conservative government’s target to reach 66% of median earnings by 2024.

One of the successes being celebrated this year is the recent decision of North Northants council to begin paying the RLW to all staff, including staff under the age of 23, except those on the national apprenticeship scheme.

It means that staff at the council will receive a minimum hourly rate of £9.50 backdated to April 2021 and it will particularly affect care staff who work for the council as many of them are currently paid the NLW of £8.91 an hour.

Jason Smithers, leader of the council, said: “The real living wage will provide a fairer pay rate for our dedicated and hardworking staff and I believe this is a major step in the right direction.”

The announcement comes after a recent report from the Living Wage Foundation found that 73% of care workers in England are paid less than the £9.50 an hour of the RLW, and that more than half of home-care workers are on zero-hours contracts.

With recruitment and retention issues across the care sector, it is hoped that North Northants’ decision will help the council attract and retain staff who work in adult social care more effectively.

UNISON lead convenor Yolande Morgan said: “The trade unions have been working closely with North Northants council on the introduction of the real living wage and welcome this announcement

“Local government staff, particularly care staff, have been at the front line throughout the pandemic. Paying the real living wage will really help low paid staff to pay their bills and buy food.

“It is also an investment in council services and in north Northamptonshire. It means that people are more likely to work for their local council, to stay living locally and spend their income locally. This is a good news story for north Northamptonshire.”

As a part of UNISON’s living wage campaign, a new bargaining guide was recently published which is designed to assist branches in establishing the real living wage as the minimum pay rate in an organisation.

Furthermore, new social media graphics and resources can be found at the living wage campaign page.