A new report by the independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has exposed a ‘scandal’ of low pay in Dumfries and Galloway, says a south Scotland MSP.
Labour MSP Colin Smyth said the report shows that Dumfries and Galloway has the highest proportion of employees earning below the Living Wage.
30.7% of all employees in the region are being paid under the ‘real’ Living Wage which was £8.25 per hour at the time of the survey (the Living Wage has since increased to £8.45 per hour from November 2016).
The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) report showed that the number of Scots paid less than the real living wage has increased by 7000 in the past year, with Dumfries and Galloway growing the number of people paid under the living wage by over 1000 in the last year alone, to more than 18,000.
South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “This expert analysis shows that more than 18,000 people across Dumfries and Galloway are being paid below the Living Wage and that is a scandal. The fact that the number has increased by over a 1,000 in the past year shows the failure of the SNP Scottish Government and the Conservative UK Government to properly support businesses in the region so they can afford to pay decent wages.
“The reality is there is no future for our local economy as a low wage, low skill economy. We need a long term industrial strategy for the region to create the high paid jobs of the future.”
The SNP’s Galloway MP Richard Arkless said: “These are worrying figures and not ones that should please anyone. I recognise that some businesses in Dumfries and Galloway may find it difficult to pay the real living wage. That’s why I believe the UK Government should not only enforce the real living wage - but also provide support to rural businesses.”
Galloway Conservative MSP Finlay Carson said: “It is disappointing that there are only 15 Living Wage Accredited Employers in D&G and I hope more businesses will consider going through the process of being accredited.” Mr Carson added that for a rural constituency such as Galloway there was good news in that the fuel duty freeze will continue.”