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Council becomes a Real Living Wage employer

Published Thursday, 12th September 2019

Black wall outside the Civic Centre with the words Civic Centre in gold

Councillors will discuss the work needed to make Southend-on-Sea Borough Council an accredited Real Living Wage employer at the cabinet meeting next week (Tuesday 17 September).

The real living wage (currently £9 an hour) is calculated by the Resolution Foundation and is based on the cost of a basket of everyday goods as a way to benchmark living costs and is reviewed every November. It is more than the minimum wage, which is a national statutory requirement and is currently £7.70 an hour for under 25’s and £8.21 for over 25’s.

The lowest wage for a directly employed member of staff at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is £9 per hour, or £17,364 per annum, meaning the council is a real living wage employer. Now councillors will discuss next steps to obtain the Real Living Wage accreditation. In order to be accredited employer, the Council must pay all directly employed staff the Living Wage and have an agreed plan in place for third party contracted staff such as catering, cleaning, security, parks or ground staff.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “I am pleased that as a council all our directly employed staff receive a Real Living Wage, and we can now begin to discuss the work which needs to take place to get accreditation.

“This is not going to be easy, owing to the financial pressures on the council and businesses, but the people working in our town deserve a real living wage, and it is our job to show leadership. 

“We want to be able to attract and retain excellent employees across all departments and services of the council and being an accredited real living wage employer will be an excellent standard upon which we can boost our reputation and attractiveness as a place to work.”

Benefits of becoming an accredited Living Wage employer are:

  • helping tackle inequality and helping families to become more independent
  • encourage other organisations to become a Living Wage employer
  • enhanced reputation as an employer
  • better employee relationships
  • increased retention rates, especially with lower paid roles
  • improved recruitment and quality of candidates for roles
  • reduced sickness
  • better quality of contracted services
  • lower HR costs relating to the above

Councillors will discuss the implications of seeking accreditation and the impact this could have on introducing real living wages to the council’s arms length organisations (such as South Essex Homes), third party contractors (such as Veolia) and existing contracts.

To view the report please visit our Democracy pages.