Lewisham firms can hear more about how their competitors have benefitted from offering the Living Wage

A total of 81 firms in one borough have so far signed up to pay staff paying a fair wage – and contributed £1.3million to their wages.

Lewisham council will celebrate the boost to employees pockets in Living Wage Week (9-14th November) by co-hosting an event to encourage local businesses to learn more about the benefits of paying workers the London Living Wage.

Lewisham along with Southwark and Lambeth councils will provide the opportunity to hear from businesses paying the London Living Wage, local councillors and community champions.

Councillor Joe Dromey, Cabinet Member for Culture, Jobs and Skills, said:

“We’re proud that Lewisham Council was the first accredited Living Wage Council in the Country. We’re committed to tackling poverty pay and encouraging more employers to pay the Living Wage. In 2018 we committed to doubling the number of Living Wage employers in Lewisham. And we’re almost there! We now have 81 Living Wage employers in Lewisham”

The Living Wage is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, based on the cost of living. Lewisham Council was the joint first in the country to become an accredited Living Wage employer. This year the Council also increased pay for apprentices to the Living Wage.

To mark the start of Living Wage Week, the new rate for the London Living Wage has been announced as £10.85 per hour. This is over £2 higher than the government’s so-called ‘National Living Wage’, and the increase will mean a pay rise for hundreds of workers in Lewisham.

One in four employees in the borough paid below the Living Wage, so Lewisham Council is encouraging other employers locally to pay the Living Wage – and town hall chiefs say that will give them an enhanced reputation, better motivated staff who stay with the company. They also get a rates discount if they sign up.

But a quarter of Lewisham employees are paid less than the Living Wage figure as of April 2020 according to the Living Wage Foundation.

Kate Reid, co-owner of local sister and brother family business Freewheelin’ Pizza based in New Cross said:

“We know from personal experience how hard life can be on the minimum wage. From the very beginning as a business we wanted to set a standard where we pay our staff a decent wage because it’s just fair that we should. We will always pay the London Living Wage and it’s something we’ll never consider dropping.”

Jess Currie, from SWoP (Shopping Without Packaging) who runs an organic zero-waste unpackaged grocery shop in Lee said

“Our shop is built on ethics, social and environmental justice to the best of our ability and therefore it makes sense that we would want to treat our team in the same way. A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. This has resulted in a stable team who work really hard for the shop.”

A local one-off discount to business rates of up to £6,000 is available from Lewisham council to businesses that become accredited London Living Wage employers in the current financial year. For businesses wanting to find out more they should contact economyandpartnerships@lewisham.gov.uk or call 020 8314 6700.

People can sign up for the Living Wage Week event at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/london-living-wage-celebration-tickets-124406598485


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