Blog: Exeter Labour is helping to make wage poverty history

June 24, 2013 in Local, Parliament

The Minimum wage was historic when it was introduced in 1999.  At the time it divided political parties: Labour claimed rightly that it would lift the wages of over two million people; the Tories said that businesses would have to operate at a loss and that staff would be made redundant, and they opposed it.

How things change? Now very few across the political spectrum argue against the minimum wage, which is now set at £6.19. In fact, many are committed to further reform with the introduction of the living wage at £7.45.

The Living Wage Foundation (LWF) performs important work in trying to get the buy-in from local councils and other local employers to adopt the living wage.

Recently, Ed Miliband announced that he wanted to make this a key plank of Labour’s work & welfare reform. Last week Exeter City Council joined 12 other Labour councils in adopting the living wage. The other councils are Birmingham, Harlow, Norwich, Oxford, Preston, Camden, Ealing, Hounslow, Islington, Lewisham, Lambeth and Southwark. Another 17 local authorities have signalled their intent to follow suit. Ed Miliband has said a future Labour Government would incentivise businesses to pay the living wage through tax relief for training or lower business rates.

Any employer already paying or interested in paying the living wage can get an accredited kite mark to promote the fact that they have adopted the living wage when they recruit or when they tender for contracts. Details can be found in the LWF’s Guide for Employers.

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Today’s allegations that the Metropolitan Police tried to smear the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence are shocking, if true. The Lawrence family’s campaign to secure convictions over the racist murder of their son was a symbol of perseverance, faith and a thirst for justice in the face of inertia, indifference and worse. It now seems that instead of working to find Stephen’s murderers some in the police may have been working to discredit his grieving family. We need to know the truth behind these allegations quickly if credibility in the Met is not to be damaged even further.