Camden proud to pay a living wage

This week is London Living Wage (LLW) week, which gives me the opportunity to promote the fantastic news that Camden, under a Labour administration (of course!) is now a LLW council.


Camden flying the flag for the London Living Wage…(l to r) Cabinet Member Cllr Valerie Leach, Rhys Moore, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward and deputy leader Cllr Pat Callaghan

In fact (and this shows up my tardiness in blogging about it) Camden was only the third council in the country to become nationally accredited LLW authorities. Now there are 19 in all – all of them Labour (of course!).

Under Labour, Camden has become a trailblazer in fair pay – something of which we should be rightly proud.

It’s worth noting in the margins that there isn’t a single Tory borough even pursuing accreditation and, even though Boris Johnson, lauds the London Living Wage, the GLA isn’t accredited.

Yesterday, Labour leader Ed Miliband launched a new three point plan to promote fair pay across Britain through the Living Wage. He highlighted Labour councils, including Camden, that have already taken a lead on this.

Ed Miliband said: “There are almost five million people in Britain who aren’t earning the living wage; people who got up early this morning, spent hours getting to work – who are putting in all the effort they can – but who often don’t get paid enough to look after their families, to heat their homes, feed their kids, care for elderly relatives and plan for the future … Britain needs a government that will work with the best of British business to build greater prosperity and share it more fairly. That is what One Nation is about. The living wage is an important part of helping to make that happen. It is an idea whose time has come.”

He said that we had a lot to learn from councils like Camden who not only pay staff the London Living Wage of £8.30 an hour but are making fair pay an integral part of the decision making process in tendering contracts to external employers.

The London Living Wage is a campaign run by Citizens UK and the Living Wage Foundation. It is an hourly rate set independently and calculated according to the cost of living in the UK.

Labour Camden leader Cllr Sarah Hayward said: “We are proud to be one of the first boroughs in London to not only commit to introducing the London Living Wage but to act on that commitment, and I am proud that it is Labour councils leading the way on this issue. In times like these, paying a living wage is even more important as the Tory-led government cuts £18 billion from welfare benefits, including those paid to people in work.”

It is becoming almost passé to repeat, but there is a real crisis of affordability facing many of us in NW6 (indeed, across north London). Nowhere is this more acutely felt – nor indeed should a progressive society feel a responsibility for – than those on the lowest wages. The LLW is an obvious way to redress the balance in the capital an begin to address the high cost of living in a world city.

The alternative? Living in a hollowed out city (think Paris on steroids) with few of the vibrant, mixed communities like Kilburn and West Hampstead.

I don’t think LLW is a cure-all – the ever-thoughtful Hopi Sen has a very interesting take on the practicalities of implementing a living wage LLW on his blog. But it’s a good start.

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