Leeds’ campaigners call for action on living wage

Leeds Citizens announced the new Living Wage rate, at Oxford Place Centre.
Leeds Citizens announced the new Living Wage rate, at Oxford Place Centre.
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Social Justice campaigners Leeds Citizens is carrying out a week of action to call on the city’s employers to pay the ‘living wage’.

Set by the Living Wage Foundation each year and based on the current cost of living in the UK, this week saw the voluntary wage increase by 40p to £8.25 an hour outside London.

Leeds Citizens have this week been campaigning for businesses in the city to pay the living wage, through events including business awards to celebrate the city’s employers already accredited as paying the living wage.

Graham Brownlee, Leeds Citizens co-chair said: “Leeds Citizens member communities see the terrible effects of working poverty every day. While we celebrate the great leadership shown by living wage employers in our region, research shows that 26 per cent of workers in Yorkshire are still paid poverty wages. We urge businesses, large and small, to join the growing movement of Living Wage employers so that work can be the surest way out of poverty.”

As reported by the YEP earlier this week, 21 per cent of employers in Leeds are paid less than the previous living wage, of £7.85.

In April this year, the YEP revealed 19 per cent of Leeds City Council’s workforce were paid less than that amount and in September, members of the council’s executive board approved plans to pay staff a minimum of £8.01 an hour from next April - but this is now still short of the new living wage.

Leeds Citizens’ Graham Brownlee added: “At the Leeds Citizens Founding Assembly, Coun Judith Blake committed to work with Leeds Citizens to seek living wage accreditation and encourage local employers to do the same. It’s great that some progress has been made since then with the increase of the lowest pay rates to £8.01/hour, but there is still a some way to go before they become a living wage employer. We look forward to meeting with the council soon and hearing more detail on how they will meet their commitment and make the transition to Living Wage accreditation.”

Coun James Lewis, deputy leader of the council, said the £8.01 rate will still be implemented from April next year but in the longer term they will look at pay structures to meet the new £8.25 rate.

He said: “The commitment is there to get to £8.25 but it’s just going to take us longer.”