Increased incentives for businesses paying the living wage are to be encouraged by Lewisham Council to bring relief for the 13,000 people in Lewisham still subjected to “poverty pay”.
According to Joe Dromey, Councillor for New Cross and Lewisham Cabinet Member for Jobs and Skills, one in four employees in Lewisham still earn below the living wage.
Dromey and Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, have now contacted 100 of the largest employers in the borough to encourage them to pay the UK living wage.
The number of employers earning the UK’s living wage in Lewisham has increased by 700 per cent in three years. This rise is attributed to an incentive scheme launched in 2016 that gives a discount to businesses who pay the living wage.
There are now over 5,000 people working with living wage employers across the borough.
The council aims at increasing the number of living wage employers to at least 100 by 2022 to help tackle poverty in the borough.
Dromey added: “We are committed to building an economy that works for the many and to tackling poverty pay. We are proud to have been amongst the first living wage council in the country. But one in four jobs in the borough still pays below the living wage, so we have far more to do.”
Dromey and Egan have sent letters to local businesses explaining that businesses who pay the living wage will be eligible for a discount rate of up to £6,000.
In order to get the discount, businesses have to be based in the Lewisham borough and must be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019.
As part of the Living Wage Week campaign which took place last week, Dromey visited some of the living wage employers in Deptford to thank them, including Goldsmiths in New Cross and Aldworth James and Bond, a manufacturing company.
In 2012, Lewisham and Islington became London’s first living wage councils.
On November 8, seven of the best local businesses won the Mayor of Lewisham Business Award at a ceremony held at the Civic Suite in Catford. The award also hopes to boost the businesses’ profiles in the community.
The winners will be able to use the Mayor of Lewisham Business Award winner logo to use on promotional materials for their business and receive advertising through local media and the council-run Lewisham Life magazine.
The council hopes that the award will encourage businesses in the community that are not paying the living wage to join the movement.
Dromey said: “We are offering employers a business rate discount if they do the right thing and go living wage. We are calling on all employers to commit to fair pay, and to help us tackle poverty in the borough.”
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, recently announced that London’s living wage will increase from £10.20 to £10.50 per hour to help “make London a fairer and more equal city”.