Salford celebrates Living Wage anniversary

Salford organisations say securing the real Living Wage for employees will be even more crucial as the nation recovers from COVID19.

It’s a year since Salford became the first place in England to be recognised by the Living Wage Foundation for its ambition to become a Living Wage city to tackle poverty, boost business and create a fairer society.

The real Living Wage is independently calculated based on what people need to meet the true cost of living and is upgraded every year to reflect increases in living costs.

Salford is the fastest growing economy in Greater Manchester but nearly 40% of the workforce (44,600 people) in Salford earn below the real Living Wage, compared to 30% nationally.

A task force, made up of public, private and voluntary/community/social enterprise organisations has been working hard to promote the benefits of paying the real Living Wage to local businesses and has already seen the number of Living Wage employers increase from 38 in 2019 to 47 in 2020.

The ambition is to increase that more than 70 businesses by 2022 which could double the number of people paid the real Living Wage from 10,000 to 20,000.

Salford City Council, which is part of the task force, became the first council in Greater Manchester to pay the real Living Wage in 2013 and since then has championed two pay rises for social care staff bringing them closer to receiving the real Living Wage.

City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “These are very challenging times for private, public and voluntary sector organisations, but we can’t abandon our ambition to lift people out of poverty pay and see the real economic benefits this brings for organisations and our economy.

“Salford has been growing at a phenomenal rate and investment and development has continued despite the pandemic. We want everyone to benefit from that growth.

“The pandemic has also shown the worth of key workers in health, social care, retail, logistics and more who have literally kept the city going yet are often the lowest paid in society. We need to reward that loyalty.”

Chris Smallwood, Managing Director of Worsley-based Anchor Removals and part of the Living Wage action group said his company saw only benefits from paying the real Living Wage.

“Rewarding people properly means better productivity and more loyalty which means you retain experienced staff and have less to spend on recruitment costs,” he said.

“Our industry is highly competitive and rife with poor pay and conditions but it costs us less than £10,000 a year more to pay the real Living Wage – a small percentage of turnover.

“Since we uplifted pay sickness absence, training costs and customer complaints have all fallen and customers now tell us they choose us because we pay the real Living Wage. My mission now is to convince my industry and other Salford companies that paying the real Living Wage aids productivity, retention and recruitment.”