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‘Living wage’ for low-paid council workers could boost Wigan’s economy, claims MP who backs campaign

By Henry Vaughan

Low-paid council workers could get a £7.20 ‘living wage’ if Wigan Council chiefs bow to pressure from a new campaign, backed by MP Lisa Nandy.

Councillor Damian Edwardson, who is also a Local Ambassador for Save the Children, launched the campaign today, calling for the Council to adopt a wage that provides a basic standard of living for workers and their families.

Campaigners say applying a ‘living wage’ could mean an extra £40 a week in the pockets of low-paid workers, which would likely be spent in the local area, providing a boost to the economy.

Ms Nandy said: “In such tough economic times it’s a big ask for councils to pay the ‘living wage’ to employees, but councils who have done it have found it boosts the local economy, and improves staff retention, productivity and morale.”

More than one in five local authorities now pays a ‘living wage’, which is independently set and calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

Employers voluntarily choose to pay the £7.20 per hour (£8.30 in London) wage compared to the National Minimum Wage, which is currently set at £6.16 per hour.

Councillor Edwardson said: “I was honoured to be asked by Save the Children to be their Local Ambassador for the ‘living wage’.

“ I hope today’s launch begins the process for Wigan Council to follow other North West local authorities in establishing a ‘living wage’ which will help to support our low paid families and tackle child poverty.” 

A report by accountants KPMG this week revealed that 22% of workers in the North West are paid less than the ‘living wage’, with five million UK-wide employees falling below the threshold.

The news comes in time for the first Living Wage Week, which takes place from November 4-10, to celebrate employers who have already adopted the policy and to encourage more to do so.

Ms Nandy said: “I’m pleased to back this campaign, which will have substantial benefits for Wigan.”

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