As part of Living Wage Week, Ealing Council is marking its intention to become a Living Wage Borough.
By offering up to £200,000 in business rate relief it hopes to encourage local businesses to pay their employees at least the London Living Wage, which is calculated according to the basic cost of living in London.
Ealing Council became a Living Wage Employer in 2013 and wants other local businesses to become responsible employers by joining the scheme. As an incentive the council is intending to offer a one-off business rate discount equivalent to two years of Living Wage Accreditation fees for the first 100 business that come forward.
The Living Wage is a voluntary higher rate of base pay and accredited employers commit to ensure their lowest paid staff are paid the London Living Wage as a minimum. Last year it was calculated at £9.15 per hour, £2.65 above the minimum wage. The cost of being accredited varies depending on the size of workforce and the type of organisation but the maximum discount could be up to £2,000 per business.
According to the London Poverty Profile, published by the Trust for London, currently more than 25% of the jobs in Ealing are low paid, contributing to levels of in-work poverty, and child poverty.
Local businessman Michael Hanreck, managing partner of PAG Leisurewear, said: “I welcome the council’s intention to offer an incentive to local business to become accredited Living Wage employers. Living wage accreditation, in my experience is fairly unique. It is a clear, elegant, statement about the ethics of the business, backed by a financial decision that can’t be smudged or worked round and the accrediting process is incredibly simple. Pay your staff what they need to live a respectable life. We need our people to care, perform and be an asset to the business; the living wage is one of the fundamental steps to achieve that.”
Councillor Steve Hynes, cabinet member for prosperity, skills and employment, said: “I congratulate PAG Leisurewear in being the first private company based in Ealing to become an accredited Living Wage Employer and I hope that their commitment to ensuring their staff get a fair wage will set a precedent for other local businesses to follow. As the council’s Living Wage champion, I look forward to working with West London Citizens and the Living Wage Foundation to promote to local businesses not only the moral aspects but the economic benefits of becoming ethical employers.”
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council, said: “We know that many hard-working people are struggling to get by and low wages severely impact the quality of life our residents are able to enjoy. We are committed to make Ealing a prosperous, healthier, and fairer borough and essential to this is ensuring people are paid at a decent rate by their employers.
“By offering a business rate discount we hope this proposed scheme will recognise and celebrate good employers in the borough and encourage others to step-up to provide a fair day’s pay for their staff.”
Sarah Vero, acting director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “It’s really good to see Ealing Council champion the Living Wage in such a practical way, supporting businesses in their borough who are showing leadership around tackling low-pay. We look forward to working with the council to increase the number of accredited Living Wage employers in the borough and promoting the Living Wage as a route to helping working families out of poverty.”
Details of the scheme will be confirmed following the council’s formal budget setting and decision making process when the scheme will be considered by Ealing’s cabinet and full council. Any businesses who wish to register their interest in the scheme should contact email@example.com