Poverty affects all parts of our society, but we can alleviate it through the actions we take as employers. Currently, around 22% of the North-East workforce is paid below the real Living Wage, which stands at £9.50 per hour. Low wages reduce demand, hinder local spending and inhibit the wellbeing of the region as a whole, making us all poorer.

For those unfamiliar, the real Living Wage is calculated annually and is the only wage rate based on the actual cost of living. The calculation is carried out by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission and is determined by what members of the public think is needed for an acceptable standard of living in the UK. The Living Wage Foundation offers a voluntary accreditation scheme for employers who go further than the government minimum to ensure their staff can meet their everyday needs.

There are over 7,000 accredited Living Wage Employers in the United Kingdom, with over 150 of these employers based in the North-East. They include very large employers, such as Sunderland City Council, Virgin Money and Newcastle University to very small ones, such as the Cederwood Trust and the Town Mouse.

However big or small, all these organisations have one thing in common, they want to be employers who pay fair wages and help tackle in-work poverty within our region. Not only does paying the real Living Wage make ethical sense, but it also makes business sense.

The most recent research, surveying accredited employers showed that:

It is clear that the benefits of real Living Wage Employer accreditation for businesses go far beyond the wages of employees; it is seen as a symbol of good practice.

As accredited employers you can display the Living Wage Employer Mark to recognise your commitment to the Living Wage. This includes a plaque, merchandise and digital assets to demonstrate that you are a responsible employer to your staff and networks. Your business will also be listed on the Living Wage Foundation website and employer map, with their accreditation often recognised in the media.

Employers interested in accrediting to the real Living Wage can access tailored support from the Living Wage Foundation. They have accredited thousands of businesses from all different sectors, industries, and sizes and will answer your queries, work with and support you every step of the way.

As businesses based in the North-East, why don’t you show leadership in your sector by committing to tackle in-work poverty and becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer? It makes both ethical and business sense.

Enquire about becoming a Living Wage Employer today – How to Accredit

Neil Duffy – Research and Campaigns Manager, Citizens Advice Newcastle