Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett has repeated calls for the Living Wage to become mandatory in response to the release of new Living Wage Foundation figures.
The Greens say the minimum wage should be lifted to a minimum of £10 per hour by 2020, £2 more than Labour’s pledge of £8 per hour. Current inadequate wage levels mean too many workers are on ‘grotesquely low wages’.
Natalie Bennett (pictured) said:
“The latest update from the Living Wage Foundation could not have come at a more significant time. Workers are currently experiencing the most sustained and painful squeeze on their wages since the 1860s. The target set by the Foundation has once again highlighted the growing divide between the wages employees are taking home every month and the amount they need to live, pay the bills and provide for their families.
“That’s why it is so disappointing that the Coalition and Labour opposition have refused to make the commitments necessary to improve worker pay and bring it in line with inflation. Their plans offer nothing except a continuation of our current inadequate wage levels.
“The Green Party would not allow this situation to persist. We are calling for the minimum wage to be made a Living Wage today, and for a target to be set of a £10/hour minimum wage, outside of London, by 2020. We are serious about taking the steps necessary to reduce inequality, tackle low pay, and create an economy that supports everyone.”
Green Party research has revealed how nine in ten big businesses (employing 250+ people) in London are not signed up to the London Living Wage scheme, eight years after the policy was launched.
Baroness Jenny Jones said:
“It’s horrible to think that nine in ten big businesses are holding out and paying poverty wages, while many pay their top executives multi-million pound bonuses. The Living Wage campaigners have been brilliant at getting some employers to voluntarily sign up. But we can’t leave more than half a million Londoners on grotesquely low wages, so we need the London Living wage to become mandatory.”
The new Living Wage rates for 2015 were announced this week. The UK Living Wage Rate is £7.85 and the new London Living Wage rate is £9.15.
Rhys Moore, Director of Living Wage Foundation, said: “As the recovery continues it’s vital that the proceeds of growth are properly shared. It’s not enough to simply hope for the best. It will take concerted action by employers, government and civil society to raise the wages of the 5 million workers who earn less than the Living Wage.
“The good news is that the number of accredited Living Wage employers has more than doubled this year – over 1,000 employers across the UK have signed up. In the last 12 months the number of Living Wage employers in the FSTE 100 has risen from four to 18 including Canary Wharf Group and Standard Life.
“Those businesses that can should follow the example of Nestle and Nationwide, as well as hundreds of smaller, independent businesses like CTS Cleaning and Hodgson Sayers Roofing, who pay the Living Wage.
“Low pay costs the taxpayer money – firms that pay the minimum wage are seeing their workers’ pay topped up through the benefits system. So it’s right that we recognise and celebrate those employers who are voluntarily signing up to the higher Living Wage, and saving the taxpayer money in the process.
“The Living Wage is an independent calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay.”