Council first will benefit some of the city's lowest paid
SUNDERLAND City Council has become the first council in the North East to be accredited as a Real Living Wage Employer.
The council already pays its own employees above the Real Living Wage recommended by the Living Wage Foundation, but the accreditation will now mean staff working for council contractors also benefit from the council's commitment to the Real Living Wage.
All contractors providing services to the council will be required to commit to paying staff working on those contracts the Real Living Wage minimum hourly wage of £9.30 when contracts with the council are renewed.
Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We are delighted to receive this accreditation which shows the Council’s commitment to recognising the value of these workers and ensures that a hard day’s work receives a fair day’s pay. Paying a living wage will not only benefit the lowest paid individuals providing public services but also the wider local economy, communities and the city.”
"This will lead to increased pay rates for hundreds of contract staff for example in security, care and support, highways, building services, stewarding for events, and in care homes. We would encourage other local employers to also commit to ensuring people receive a living wage."
The accreditation follows on from the council's 2018 commitment to adopt policies to develop more wealth creation and retention within the city.
Deputy Council Leader, Councillor Paul Stewart, added: "This is a key plank of our Community Wealth Building plans which are about supporting residents to move out of poverty and reduce the dependence on in-work benefits.
"Achieving this accreditation is also an important step in our campaign to become a REAL Living wage city. It is all about increasing and improving standards and increased wages that go into the pockets of workers, not the employer.
"We are determined as part of our City Plan to deliver a more dynamic, healthy and vibrant Sunderland. As we continue to deliver physical improvements and investment in our infrastructure, becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer means better wages for many more people."
The real Living Wage is the only wage rate calculated according to the costs of living. It provides a voluntary benchmark for employers that wish to ensure their staff earn a wage they can live on, not just the government minimum. Since 2011, the Living Wage movement has delivered a pay rise to over 200,000 people and put over £1 billion extra into the pockets of low paid workers.
One of those who will benefit from the council's commitment is Jonathan Johnson, a mobile security guard who is employed by the company contracted to provide the council's security duties.
Welcoming the news, he said: "As someone who was born and brought up in Sunderland, I think it's fantastic that the Council has brought this in. Being paid a living wage has really helped me and my family."
Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: "It is excellent news that Sunderland City Council has joined the movement of over 6600 responsible employers such as West Midlands Combined Authority, Barclays, and Chelsea Football Club, who all voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff and contracted staff earn enough to live on. Sunderland City Council’s accreditation shows their passion and leadership for employee standards among local authorities in North East England, and we hope many others will follow in their footsteps.
"As we begin to rebuild after the turbulence of recent months, having the extra income from the real Living Wage will help to provide workers and their families with stability and security."
Neil Duffy of Tyne and Wear Citizens, said: "As a community based organisation rooted in the local area we know this announcement will make a real difference to the people of Sunderland. Since we began campaigning on the Living Wage over 3 years ago the number of employers voluntarily committing to pay the real Living Wage in the region has more than quadrupled.
"The accreditation of Sunderland City Council is to be celebrated as they are the first Local Authority in the region to do so. This is an example to employers not only in Sunderland but in the region as a whole that paying the real Living Wage is not only the right thing to do for workers, but it also makes economic sense.
"We are pleased that Sunderland City Council will now lead and champion the real Living Wage both in Sunderland and the region as a whole and we look forward to working alongside Sunderland Council in doing this."