by Nicholl Hardwick
What is the Living Wage Norwich Campaign? Why is it important? What are its benefits to individuals, companies and society? What are our hopes with the Living Wage Norwich Campaign and why does it apply to students too?
These are just some of the many questioned asked in reference to the Living Wage Norwich campaign. I am here to answer and explain those questions and get you involved in Living Wage Week which will be running from 6th -11th of November.
The current national minimum wage in the UK is £7.05 for over 21s and the national living wage is £7.50 for over 25s. Yet what the Living Wage Foundation have set as the real living wage is £8.45 for anyone over the age of 18 and £9.45 for those living in London, as this is the only wage rate that is based on what people need to live outside of the poverty line, comprising a basket of household good and services. Our real living wage rates are higher because they are independently calculated based on what people really need to get by safely. We encourage all employers (who have the money to do so) to pay their employees a wage which meets the costs of living rather than just meet the government minimum.
Currently in Norwich there are 22 accredited businesses and organisations which pay their employees the actual living wage. For example: Aviva, The Grow Organisation, Norwich City Council, Future Projects, UUEAS (though not UEA as an institution), City College Norwich, to name just a few. But there should be more. Why? Because inadequate pay and exploitation have intersectional links with class, race, sexuality, and gender, and disproportionately affect non-white women and migrants. The state is effectively subsidizing industry as they are enabling big business to provide low pay to increase profits whilst the taxpayer makes up the difference in benefit payments. Through encouraging businesses and organisations who can afford to do so to adopt the real living wage we can help put a stop to poverty and exploitation.
Additionally, if people were paid the real living wage, the need for benefits would decline. Many of us find ourselves in need of government benefits because there aren’t many full-time jobs available, and part-time pay doesn’t give enough money to remain financially secure when considering rent, bills, money for food etc. Yet, if businesses paid the real living wage instead of the minimum wage or national living wage, perhaps many of us would find it much easier to come out of poverty and get into paid work regardless of it being part-time or full time.
Living wage in a nutshell is good for the individual, family, business, and society itself.
Social mobility in Norwich is the second worst in the country. This means that if children are born poor here, they are incredibly unlikely to be able to work their way out of poverty. Households that earn at least a living wage are able to spend on average 50% more time with their family each week than those on the national minimum wage. Raising the wages of the poorest amongst us will have a major knock-on effect for families for generations.
Living wage in a nutshell is good for the individual, family, business, and society itself. It affords people the opportunity to provide for themselves and family and rely less on benefits, payday lenders, or working excessive hours. It provides a reduction in absenteeism and staff turnover and brings a significant improvement to staff morale , the quality of work being produced, and not to mention the good publicity for the employer as an ethical business. The real living wage would reduce the burden on the taxpayer as there will be less money needed for benefit payments, more money spent locally as it would help establish a virtual circle of higher pay, and would also help create a sense of solidarity and pride in the city for all of its citizens rather than just a few.
We are trying to engage not only the general public about this issue but also the student population here in Norwich. We are currently hoping to get students together to create a Living Wage Norwich Society across the colleges and universities of Norwich, all of whom can help promote information about living wage benefits to society. And, as previously stated, we are also approaching Living Wage Week which is the 6th-11th of November where we will in The Forum on Monday (6th) along with Future Radio, and at the UEA campus on the Wednesday (8th) – so if you would like to engage with the campaign a little further then please come along!
The general public and specifically students are the people who are going to be moving forward into work within the next few years. The more educated you are on wealth disparities and inequalities, the more likely you are to help in changing it. We all deserve to live with economic stability no matter what our backgrounds are.
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