South London’s Merton Council has received living wage accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation.
The council has committed to pay all of its employees and agency workers at least the London living wage rate of £11.95 per hour.
It also came up with a plan to ensure all contractors are also paid at least the London living wage or the real living wage if the work is carried out outside of London, and has set aside £7.2 million over the next five years to update all contracts for cleaners, security officers and catering staff who work indirectly for the council when they come up for renewal.
The real living wage is calculated based on the real life costs of everyday needs. The rates are higher than the government’s national living wage, which is £9.50 for those aged 23 and over.
Councillor Billy Hayes, living wage champion at Merton Council, said: “It’s great news that we’re now officially a living wage employer, but our mission to end low pay doesn’t stop at the doors of the Civic Centre, we want to make Merton a London living wage borough.
“There are still 16,000 employees in the borough who are paid less than the London living wage, and we want to work with their employers to increase their pay packets. Times are tough for both employees and employers, so we want to do what we can to make this an easy decision. Where we can support local businesses who choose to do the right thing by their staff, we will.”
Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, added: “We’re delighted that Merton Council have joined the movement of almost 12,000 responsible employers across the UK who voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure their staff all earn enough to live on.
“Though we are facing unprecedented challenges with the cost-of-living crisis, it’s encouraging to see employers like Merton Council continue to step up and support workers at a time when a wage that can cover the cost of living has never been more important.’