Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Why we need a living wage here in Brighton

This 'blog has called for the minimum wage to be substantially increased before - to ensure that every working man or woman in the city is instead paid a fair 'living wage', enough that workers' incomes are sufficient to meet the costs of a basic standard of living: to ensure that work indeed provides a route out of poverty, in other words.

Debate rages about what level a living wage should be set at. As living costs vary from place to place (particularly the cost of housing) so should living wage levels. Here in Brighton, which has been dubbed the low-pay and high-cost capital of the country, a figure of about £7.50 an hour seems to tally with current thinking.

Improving pay and conditions for the poorest doesn't just improve child poverty, educational attainment and the health of those who immediately benefit, if rising pay levels at the bottom are combined with static pay levels at the top, they seem to benefit all of us.

Today research has been published that shows how urgently we need a living wage to replace the minimum wage: according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, low pay means having a job is no longer a guaranteed route out of poverty.

It seems the reality of having a McJob - the low pay, low status, service-type work thousands of Kemp Town and Peacehaven residents are forced to endure - is a life of poverty, just as much as a life on benefits.

A living wage for all in Brighton and Hove would make this poverty a thing of the past - and we'd all benefit.

Since being elected as a councillor I've tried twice to persuade Brighton and Hove Council to pay a fair, living wage to the 1,000-odd staff it pays less than £7 an hour - but to no avail, thanks to opposition from both Tory and Labour councillors.

We'll keep trying. Setting an excellent example in the way it pays its own staff - and temps - is the first step Brighton and Hove Council can take to make our city a more equitable place, and improve health and social standards for all of us.


  1. your call for a "living" wage as opposed to a minimum wage may be seen by many as an admirable cause. you say you have called on the Conservatives and Labour to implement this policy in Council and that 1,000 B&H council workers earning under £7.50 p/h would benefit (and clearly they would). However i am interested to know what would be the true cost to the Tax payers of B&H of implementing this policy?

  2. Hi Ben,

    Interesting reading, here in Birmingham the Green Party are about to launch our living wage for brum campaign on Friday with Adrian Ramsey coming over to launch it.


  3. have you worked out how much it will cost B&H council to pay a min of £7.50 p/h to its staff yet?????