By Camille Mijola and Lee Long Hui
During the Living Wage Week, Hackney Council and 30 local businesses came together to celebrate the increase of the London Living Wage rate from £9.75 to £10.20 in an event at the Town Hall.
The Mayor of Hackney used the occasion to raise a Living Wage flag on top of the Town Hall, which stands across the road from the Hackney Picturehouse Cinema where last month workers went on strike asking to be paid the London Living Wage.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said: “It’s a wider commitment to employees in the borough. I hope that we can convince some of you to continue to pay the London Living Wage and talk to colleagues in the sectors that we work in about the difference that it makes.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced the increase of the Living Wage last week. This hourly rate is calculated on the basis of how much employees and their families need to live and is now set at £10.20. This is £2.70 more than the mandatory National Living Wage but it is optional for employers.
Lucy Bannister, a guest speaker at the event and a programme officer at the Living Wage Foundation, told ELL: “Hackney is doing brilliantly. The council’s leadership in paying the real Living Wage and the Mayor’s support in this has led to many more local businesses signing up.”
Out of the 14,725 businesses registered in Hackney, there are currently 62 accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.
Speaking at the event, Bannister mentioned a survey done by the foundation where it was found that 93 per cent of the Living Wage businesses say they have benefited since becoming accredited.
Figures in Hackney show that over 9 in 10 enterprises are micro-businesses, which experts say can benefit more profoundly from becoming Living Wage employers.
Guest speaker Andrea Werner, a researcher into the Living Wage benefits on small and medium enterprises, told ELL: “There are substantial economic benefits as lower staff turnover offsets the higher wages from a business perspective, lowering costs and time expenditure for training.”
Attendees of the event included local Living Wage employers, such as E5 Bakehouse and the Five Points Brewing Company, who hosted an all-weekend beer festival in Hackney Wick to celebrate the Living Wage Week. The business owners and workers also took to the stage to share their views on the benefit of paying and gaining the living wage.
Ed Mason, the founder of Five Point Brewing Company, said: “Not only do we pay the London Living Wage because we think it’s the right thing to do but also because it increases staff morale and the attractiveness of our business as a company to work for.”