Wage boost for workers

by Marco Cillario Thu 25 February 2016, 10:10 am

Ealing Council is to encourage local businesses to pay the London living wage through a 200,000 business rate relief scheme.

Plans approved by the cabinet on 16 February 2016 will see the first 100 companies which offer the increased wages benefit from a one-off business rate discount, equivalent to the cost of two years of living wage accreditation.

The accreditation is a license issued by the Living Wage Foundation, certifying that a company is paying directly employed staff the living wage as a minimum. This also includes benefits for third-party contracted workers, ensuring they are paid at least the minimum wage as their contracts come up for renewal.

The London living wage, paid by companies on a voluntary basis, is currently £9.40 an hour, £2.70 above the national statutory minimum wage, reflecting the higher living costs Londoners face. 

The Living Wage Foundation charges a fee for accrediting employers, varying from £50 to £1,000 per year depending on the number of employees.

Accredited Ealing employers will be able to claim the equivalent of two years’ accreditation fees discounted from their business rate account. This will be applied in the first year. The maximum discount will be £2,000 per business.

Council leader Julian Bell said: “We are determined to make Ealing a fairer and more prosperous borough and so we want all of our residents to be paid a decent wage. We also want this to be a great place to run a business, so we are doing our bit to help by offsetting the cost of accreditation. I am very encouraged that we have already had several expressions of interest from local firms. 

According to the London Poverty Profile, published by the Trust for London, more than 25% of the jobs in Ealing are low paid, contributing to levels of in-work poverty, and child poverty.

“Research shows that in return for fair pay, people are more productive, take fewer sick days and are more likely to work at a company for longer,” said Councillor Steve Hynes, cabinet member for prosperity, skills and employment. “It is also good for the reputation of the business and can attract customers and prospective staff.

“I would encourage businesses who are interested in gaining accreditation to come forward so that we can recognise their commitment to becoming a fair pay employer.”

The living wage scheme will start on 1 April and is open to both employers who are already accredited and those who will become accredited during the 2016/17 financial year.

Businesses who wish to find out more about the scheme should contact the council by emailing revenues@ealing.gov.uk.

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