Calls for firms to make Newcastle a Real Living Wage city

Giving thousands of workers a pay rise would 'tackle the poverty that blights our city.'
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The logo of the Newcastle Real Living Wage initiative. Light blue silhouettes of major Newcastle landmarks including St James' Park, Greys Monument, the Civic Centre, St Nicholas' Cathedral and the Tyne Bridge sit above the words "Making Newcastle a Living Wage City."

Plans which could lead to thousands of workers getting a pay rise will be set out at a major event in Newcastle.

More than 100 companies and institutions will attend an event at St James Park to find out about the benefits of paying the real Living Wage.

This is an independently calculated rate of pay based on what employees and their families need to have a decent standard of living which is higher than the national minimum wage.

It’s being seen as an increasingly important and effective way of tackling child poverty which in parts of the city are almost 50% with seven in 10 children in poverty coming from working households proving that low pay is not enough to pay for life’s essentials.

Last year Newcastle City Council, a real Living Wage employer, announced its intention to make Newcastle a real Living Wage City with accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation. 

With partners, it set up a task group to drive forward the real Living Wage agenda and will set out its three-year plan on how to achieve this at the event on Thursday 21 March 2024.

Employers, who do not pay the real Living Wage, have been invited to find how they can get involved.

More than 14,000 employers across the UK voluntarily pay the real Living Wage – of those 174 are in Newcastle. Together they employ 50,000 staff and pay the real Living Wage to 5,000 of their lowest paid aged over 18. The rate is £12 per hour. 

The council’s Cabinet member for Resources, Cllr Paul Frew, said: “I know that economic conditions are tough for employers, and becoming a real Living Wage employer is a big step. But it is one of the most important tools we have in our drive to tackle the poverty that blights our city.

“We call on all employers across Newcastle to recognise and address the issues of low pay within their workforce and across their supply chains, and to register as real Living Wage employers if they can.

“Paying the Living Wage is good value for employers who want a motivated, secure, and stable workforce, so it makes good economic sense for them too.”

Also speaking at the event is Hannah Cooper, Research and Campaigns Manager of Citizens Advice Newcastle and co-chair of the Newcastle Living Wage Action Group.

Hannah said: “At Citizens Advice Newcastle we are seeing growing numbers of people who are in work and struggling to afford the essentials. Every day our advisers see people forced to make difficult choices - about what bills will go unpaid, who to ask for money and what essentials to go without. 

“Low pay is one of the biggest drivers of poverty for those we advise. Our research shows that, of all the households we see in a negative budget, one in three include someone who is in work, and more than half of these households include someone who is working full time. 

“Local employers paying people fairly for the work they do, based on the real cost of living, is essential to turn the tide of in-work poverty.”

Accredited real Living Wage employers in Newcastle include Newcastle University, Newcastle United FC, Newcastle Hospitals, Bellway Homes, Citizens Advice and many small business including pubs, restaurants, and other businesses.

Paying it makes good business sense. Over 80% of accredited Real Living Wage employers said it had enhanced their reputation and over half said it had improved the quality of those applying to work for them.

Evidence suggests the extra money people will have in their pockets is spent locally with businesses and shops, creating jobs and economic resilience.

It’s estimated 23,000 people earn below the real Living Wage in Newcastle. 

Find out more about the Real Living Wage at the Living Wage Foundation website

And if you have any questions about how you can help make Newcastle a Living Wage City: