Council leader urges local firms to join anti-poverty crusade by backing the Living Wage

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Dumfries and Galloway Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson is urging local companies to follow the authority’s example by considering paying staff the living wage.

The leader was speaking after it was announced that the national living wage is to increase from £7.65 per hour to £7.85 is helping providing support for the lowest paid across our region. Dumfries and Galloway Council was one of the very early adopters for the living wage amongst local authorities in Scotland, allowing people receiving t to access the goods and services that most people deem necessary to participate in society. As a result of the increase in the living wage, 2117 of the lowest paid council employees will see their hourly rate increase by around 2.6%. The National Minimum Wage is £6.51.

Councillor Ronnie Nicholson said: “I am proud that Dumfries and Galloway Council was one of the first in Scotland to introduce a Living Wage and this latest increase will boost the pay of 2117 of our lowest paid staff. Too often people just assume that if you are in poverty, you are on benefits but the reality is the majority of people in poverty are actually in work. This means that working families are increasingly having to turn to help, such as food banks and unsustainable debt, to get by. To have people in Dumfries and Galloway living in poverty is not acceptable and as a Council we are committed to tackling this issue both by increasing the pay of our lowest paid staff but also promoting the Living Wage to other organisations.

“As well as our commitment to staff, our council encourages its suppliers to pay the living wage and includes a statement in all relevant tender documents making tenderers aware of this. We will also be highlighting our encouragement of payment of living wage at future supplier training sessions that we will be holding. Our Council will also be encouraging employers across the region to adopt the Living Wage for their staff.”

Councillor Nicholson added: “We know that, given the rural nature of our region, we have unacceptably high levels of poverty and the lowest average pay in Scotland. This was one of the big talking points at the recent Anti-Poverty Conference. Together, we all need to work to tackle poverty across the region. The council will be leading the development of our region’s first even comprehensive anti-poverty strategy. Although the council has led the way by paying the living wage for its own staff, we want to encourage our suppliers to pay the living wage as well as other local businesses.

“Within the action plan, we will be identifying ways that we can get local businesses and employers to join the anti poverty crusade and commit to the living wage for their staff. I appreciate that will be challenging for many firms, but there are some out there who can afford to pay the living wage but choose not to. However, more and more companies across the UK understand the benefits to their business of paying a decent, living wage to their employees.”