The Council confirmed that it would be adopting the recommendations of the Independent Living Wage Commission chaired by Professor Keith Shaw of Northumbria University. The Commission was established by the Council in June 2013 to examine the possibility of introducing a Living Wage.
The Council will begin to introduce the Living Wage on a phased basis from April 2015.
Emma said the Living Wage would reduce inequality and boost the local economy by putting more money in consumers’ pockets.
“I want to congratulate all those who’ve worked on this important report, for their thorough work and their careful consideration. I also want to thank all those who gave evidence as part of the Commission’s work, the council officers who supported the process, and the members of the public and campaigners who have contributed tirelessly to the movement for a Living Wage.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Rachel Reeves MP was also in South Tyneside to welcome the announcement.
“It’s brilliant that South Tyneside council is making this important commitment.
“Labour councils are leading the way in paying and promoting the living wage. It shows that even in tough times when there is less money around we can make choices that help build a fairer society.”
“Everyone benefits from the Living Wage. Employees get a decent wage which gives the chance of a better standard of living for themselves and their families. Employers who pay a Living Wage find it can make business sense, generating savings through improved productivity, recruitment and retention. And the Living Wage also cuts costs for the Treasury with less being spent on in-work benefits.”
The Living Wage is calculated by the independent Living Wage Foundation, according to the basic cost of living. The current UK Living Wage is £7.65 per hour.
Labour has pledged to encourage employers to pay the Living Wage through tax incentives. Ed Miliband also announced at Labour conference last month a commitment to raise the Minimum Wage to £8 by 2020.
Emma has also backed a Private Members Bill on the Minimum Wage tabled by the Labour MP Dan Jarvis, which would set targets for raising the Minimum Wage each Parliament.
Emma’s speech on South Tyneside’s Living Wage announcement
Thank you very much Rachel for your fantastic speech. It’s a real pleasure to have you here on this milestone occasion. Thank you as well to Ed, Iain, Neil and Professor Shaw, for all of the work he has done as chair of the Commission and a special thanks to Jan who very powerfully expressed what the living wage means.
As Labour party members our politics are rooted in the absolute belief that work should bring dignity and security. Our party was founded on the principle that people should not have to work for their poverty, but that through their skill and commitment work their way towards a better life for themselves, their family and their community. That should be the right of every person – to receive a fair reward for the energy and effort they put into their work.
That’s why the minimum wage was such a proud and important achievement for our party, because it established for the first time in law that dignity and security for millions of low paid people. For the first time, the state itself confirmed that working poverty was unacceptable.
It is amazing that a generation of young people can now grow up with the expectation that they will be paid a minimum wage. It has transformed the way working people view themselves in relation to the work they do. It has protected some of the most vulnerable workers, who might have lived lives of poverty without it.
But today, when that generation is facing a cost of living crisis and living standards are falling faster than they have in nearly a century, we know we must do more.
That’s why I’m delighted and proud that here in South Tyneside we’re honouring those Labour principles, and that following the work of the Independent Living Wage Commission our Council is going to become the first in the North East to introduce the Living Wage. Today’s announcement shows that we are dedicated to protecting that all-important link between work and security; between work and dignity.
That is what a Living Wage would mean to those struggling to get by in our borough. It would give them the knowledge that they are working for more than survival that their efforts go towards more than just putting food on the table and keeping the lights on. They would know that they work in a community that values them and believes they are entitled to a decent life for the contribution they make.
The moral argument is powerful on its own, but the Commission’s report shows the practical benefits that a living wage could bring to our borough as well. As we have heard today, a living wage could reduce income inequality, it can boost economic activity in our area and it can improve productivity.
By doing all of this, it will be a fantastic achievement for our borough and make a huge difference to the lives of some of the people we have the honour of representing.
I want to congratulate all those who’ve worked on this important report, for their thorough work and their careful consideration. I also want to thank all those who gave evidence as part of the Commission’s work, the council officers who supported the process, and the members of the public and campaigners who have contributed tirelessly to the movement for a Living Wage.
Today’s commitment has the potential to transform the lives of people across South Tyneside, and I’m proud to be here with you all today to acknowledge this victory for working people in our area.