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Supporting the Living Wage and tackling low pay in Lewisham

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During Living Wage Week, Lewisham Labour has unveiled plans to encourage local employers to pay the Living Wage. 

The plans include offering a Business Rate discount next year to employers who become accredited with the Living Wage Foundation. The discount worth up to £5,000 would be available to employers who commit to paying all of their staff the Living Wage. Employers will also be offered free advertising in Lewisham Life – the council magazine that goes to over 100,000 households in the borough. 

The offer was launched by Mayor Steve Bullock on a visit to Cam Specialist Support, a small local cleaning business that recently became a Living Wage accredited employer.

The Living Wage is the amount required to live free of poverty. It is calculated independently by the Living Wage Foundation and it will be £9.40 an hour in London from next April. This is over £2 higher than the so-called ‘National Living Wage’ announced by George Osborne in the budget.

Under Labour, Lewisham Council was the first to become an accredited Living Wage employer. These plans will support more employers to pay the Living Wage and help tackle in-work poverty. Lewisham faces higher than average levels of in-work poverty; one in four jobs in the borough pays below the Living Wage. Across the city, there are 1.2 million Londoners who live in a working family but are still in poverty, up by 70% over the last decade. 
The Government’s plans for Tax Credit cuts – recently defeated in the Lords – would have hit 15,000 families in Lewisham who would have lost an average of £1,300 a year. The plans would have increased child poverty by 200,000 across the country. David Cameron has not ruled out trying again to force these changes through. 

Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London said “Labour Councils like Lewisham have been at the forefront of promoting the Living Wage in London. Plans to provide business rate incentives will reward businesses that do the right thing, and lift more working families out of poverty. In London today over 1.2 million people who live in poverty are part of a working family. I want to make London a Living Wage City – one in which everyone is paid a real Living Wage. We have to work closely with employers to make this a reality, and Lewisham’s ambitious plans are once again leading the way.”
Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham said “we were proud to be the first Living Wage Council in the country. But we want to do more to encourage and support our partners and local businesses to pay the Living Wage too. A fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”

Cllr Joe Dromey, Cabinet Member for Policy and Performance said “with the Tories planning to slash Tax Credits, tackling in-work poverty is more important than ever. We want to support responsible businesses who do the right thing and pay a decent wage.”

Vicky Foxcroft MP for Lewisham Deptford said “I was a Councillor in Lewisham when we introduced the Living Wage. It shows the difference Labour can make in local government. I’m delighted that Lewisham Council are going further and supporting local employers who do the right thing. We will only tackle poverty through making work pay.” 

Sarah Vero, Director of Living Wage Foundation said: “we are thrilled to see this leadership from the London Borough of Lewisham. Lewisham was one of the first Local Authorities to take up the Living Wage accreditation and are now extending this commitment to encouraging local employers to go Living Wage. There are now over 2,000 Living Wage accredited employers showing that the Living Wage is good for people and for business.”

Cllr Kevin Bonavia, Cabinet Member for Resources said “the massive cuts in public funding by the Tory government – including nearly half of Lewisham Council's budget since 2010 – has caused a huge strain on public services to our local businesses and residents. We hope that this cost-effective offer from the Council will help our businesses do the right thing for people working in our Borough."

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