Council asks local employers to help Oxford become England’s first Living Wage City

Published: Thursday, 8th November 2018

Oxford City Council is calling on local employers to help Oxford become England’s first Living Wage City.

The council and the Living Wage Foundation are holding a joint event tonight to promote the benefits of paying the Living Wage and encourage employers to sign up for Living Wage accreditation.

Nearly forty employers have signed up to attend the event, which is taking place at Saïd Business School. The Living Wage Foundation will explain the Living Wage and outline its potential benefits for Oxford and its workers, and local employers – including Oxfam and the University of Oxford – will describe their experiences of gaining Living Wage accreditation and its impact on their operations. 

The council hopes to encourage enough employers to pay the Living Wage to enable Oxford to gain Living Wage Foundation accreditation as England’s first Living Wage City.

A September 2018 report by the Smith Institute calculated that ten UK cities could see an annual economic boost of £1.1 billion if a quarter of low paid workers had their pay increased to the Living Wage. The council believes that Oxford becoming a Living Wage City will deliver a commensurate increase in local spending power, benefitting all of the city’s communities.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council and Board Member for Economic Development and Partnership, said: “Working in partnership with the Living Wage Foundation, our ambition is for Oxford to become England’s first Living Wage City. For this to happen, we need a critical mass of local employers to pay the Living Wage and get accredited.

“Oxford City Council is an accredited Living Wage employer because the Living Wage enables our staff and their families to live free from poverty. It also benefits businesses and the wider local economy. For those employers that can afford to pay the Living Wage there are real benefits to be had. Smith Institute research shows that 10 UK cities would benefit by more than a billion pounds a year if only a quarter of low paid workers received the Living Wage. We would like to see this happen in Oxford.”

Sebastian Bachelier, Programme Officer for the Living Wage Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be speaking at Oxford City Council’s Living Wage Week event. It’s a great opportunity to promote the business and societal benefits of the Real Living Wage across Oxford.”

Keith Mellen, Director of Anne Veck Limited, said: “We pay the Living Wage because it is the right thing to do and because it helps us recruit and retain great people. It tells our employees that we value them and it helps them meet Oxford’s high living costs, especially for housing.

“Low pay is a false economy because it is subsidised by benefits and tax credits. The Living Wage is good for employers, employees and Oxford – it helps stop people moving to cheaper parts of the country and helps us attract the staff we need.”

Bryan Michell, Charity Co-ordinator at My Life My Choice and member of the Charity Leaders Forum, said: “The Charity Leaders Forum is a forum for 14 small to medium sized charities supporting people in Oxfordshire. Between us, we provide direct support to more than 15,000 people a year and help thousands more through support to other organisations.

“Collectively we spend more than £7 million a year improving the lives of some of the most socially excluded people living in our county, and we all pay our staff the Living Wage. We think it is the very least we need to do. We aim to show leadership for the rest of the charity sector, and I would urge all Oxford charities and other employers to pay their staff the Living Wage.”

The voluntary Living Wage is an hourly pay rate which is calculated for the Living Wage Foundation and updated every October. The Living Wage is enough to ensure that employees and their families can live free from poverty.

Employers who sign up to the Living Wage commit to pay it to all staff over the age of 18 who work regularly on their premises. This includes employed, contracted and subcontracted staff.

The Living Wage outside London is currently £8.75 an hour. It will rise to £9 an hour from April 2019.

More information about the Living Wage is at www.oxford.gov.uk/livingwage