Monday, 21 April 2008

A 'living wage' of £7 an hour for Brighton and Hove's lowest paid workers?

The national minimum wage - currently just £5.52 an hour - is effectively a 'poverty wage' in Brighton and Hove, a city with some of the highest accommodation and living costs in the country.

The fact is that if a minimum wage is to be an effective antidote to poverty it has to be linked to living costs, and these vary around the country.

Local branches of Trade Unions recognise the problem, and are working on a number of a policy proposals to tackle it: some have called for a 'Brighton and Hove weighting allowance'.

I'm not sure what the best answer is, but some way towards remedying the reality of grinding poverty would be a significant increase in the pay packet for some of the city's poorest. I'm asking councillors of all parties to support the principle of a minimum 'living wage' of £7 an hour in the city - I hope they will all support it: I'll report back here on what they've said on Friday.

Of course the council has no power over how much private employers pay their staff, but we can send out a clear moral signal that paying less than £7 an hour is unacceptable in this city in 2008.

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