Workers in the capital deserve to be paid the London Living Wage

Sadiq Khan
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Labour Party Conference 2017- Day Two
The mayor of London has announced that the new London Living Wage rate would be £10.55 per hour. (Source: Getty)

Few people would disagree that if you get up, go to work every day, and put in the hard graft, then you deserve to earn an income you can live off.

And yet, nearly a fifth of all jobs in our city do not pay a subsistence wage, leaving hundreds of thousands of Londoners struggling to make ends meet.

In an age characterised by high levels of economic inequality, growing in-work poverty, and rising populism, this should concern us all.

Thankfully, there is a simple but powerful idea that has the potential to address some of these challenges, and which is already making a huge difference for countless families: the real Living Wage.

Thanks to the tireless campaigning of Citizens UK and the Living Wage Foundation, there are now thousands of organisations across the UK – and 1,500 here in our city – that are Living Wage accredited.

As we mark the end of Living Wage Week, I’m delighted that dozens more have joined their ranks, including King’s College London, Shelter, and the world’s oldest law firm, Freshfields.

On Monday, I announced that the new London Living Wage rate would be £10.55 per hour. This is almost 30 per cent higher than the government’s supposed National Living Wage, and is independently calculated to reflect the real cost of living, including the higher costs of London.

As mayor, I’m a vocal advocate of the London Living Wage because it articulates a basic moral principle: that if you do the right thing and work hard, you’re entitled to earn a wage that lets you live to a decent standard.

That’s why since taking office I’ve ensured that everyone within the Greater London Authority and the mayoral bodies – including Transport for London – is getting paid the London Living Wage.

Earlier this week, I was also proud to announce that, having taken control of the London Stadium, all staff – including temporary and sub-contracted workers – will be paid it too.

For me, it is important to lead by example. It sends a strong message about our values and about who we are as a city, but – crucially – it can also convince other organisations to follow suit.

Unfortunately, there are many London employers who, despite having the means to pay the London Living Wage, still refuse to do so.

My message to them is that you are wrong to undervalue your staff. A responsible business is much more likely to be a successful one. And by failing to pay the London Living Wage, you risk missing out on benefits such as better staff morale, higher productivity, and lower workforce turnover.

So this Living Wage Week, I’m calling on our most influential institutions – our universities, local authorities, airports, football clubs, theatres and galleries – to step up and show that paying the London Living Wage is not just a lofty idea, but a real opportunity.

No one who goes out to work every day should have to endure the indignity of poverty. Nor should they have to worry about choosing between putting food on the table, heating their homes, or clothing their children.

Our city can – and must – do better. But together, I’m confident that we can make London a fairer and more equal place for everyone.

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