As we head into Living Wage Week, my question to the region’s business leaders and employers is this. Why wouldn’t you pay wages that are based on the real cost of living? Especially when it not only feels like the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense.

I was introduced to the Living Wage by a colleague over a decade ago when I was managing what was then a 5-person software development company. This was a time before government adopted the term. Even then it was hard to comprehend that the minimum wage was simply not enough for many people to survive on. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and it still isn’t.

It didn’t take much research for us to register for accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation and commit to paying all our team the Real Living Wage – it felt like the right thing to do. It wasn’t until we put the logo on our website that we realised it had other benefits too.

As we grew and recruited new team members, we were regularly told by applicants that being a Living Wage Employer encouraged their application. Current and potential clients felt it gave them confidence and trust in us and differentiated us from our peers. It wasn’t just that it felt right, it made good business sense.

With 40% of people accessing Universal Credit being in employment, the “National Living Wage” is clearly not what it says it is.

The Real Living Wage is different. Instead of being calculated on a % of average earnings, it is based on the real cost of living – what it actually costs to buy a basket of household goods and pay for essential services. Reviewed every 12 months it also considers the higher cost of living in London.

Next week is Living Wage Week, where the latest figures are announced and the current rate of £9.50 per hour is updated. With costs of living spiralling and costs of doing business or running an organisation increasing too, it is not easy for anyone to make ends meet. The week features an event on Monday 15th November, hosted by NIBE, where you can find out more about the difference the Real Living Wage makes on businesses and how you can get involved. I really hope you can join us.

If you pay the Real Living Wage, you can be comfortable that your team have enough to feed and clothe their families, that they shouldn’t need to visit food banks or top up with benefits, and that they have a much better chance of living healthier, happier lives. Why wouldn’t you do that?

About Adam Hill

Adam is the Head of Digital Adoption at Sunderland Software City and founder of Digital Changemakers. He has over 20 years’ experience of technology and management consultancy in over 30 countries and has been a Living Wage Tech Champion since 2019.