Newham council officially declared a London Living Wage employer

Living Wage Employer

Newham Council has been accredited as a London Living Wage employer.

The council’s longstanding payment of the living wage to its employees has this week been officially recognised by the Living Wage Foundation. The accreditation is another milestone in delivering Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz’s pledge that the council should lead by example to tackle inequality and promote fairness in the borough.

This means that all staff directly employed by the council receive a minimum hourly wage currently £10.85 an hour in London, significantly higher than the government minimum for over 25s. The council’s Community Wealth Building Pledge requires that any supplier who wants to work with the council also commit to paying the London Living Wage to their staff.

The accreditation is part of a broader agenda which is being pursued by Mayor Fiaz and her administration to tackle poverty and inequality in the borough. It will help ensure that local economic activity benefits local people, promoting their health, wellbeing and happiness.

Announcing the accreditation to a meeting of full Council on 1 March, Mayor Fiaz said: “Last November, I committed the Council to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer by February and I’m delighted that this has been achieved. The London Living Wage is aimed at paying workers a fair wage to give the poorest in our society a chance to earn a proper and decent living. We cannot accept low pay in either the public or private sectors, which is damaging to our residents.’

‘We are the largest employer in the borough, with 3,400 strong workforce – one third of whom are Newham residents. A significant number are cleaners, catering staff, healthcare assistants and security guards. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital work of key workers and those delivering public services. As a result of our commitment to pay all staff the real Living Wage, 1,900 care workers in the borough have already received a pay rise.’

“Our ambition is to make Newham a London Living Wage borough. It is not acceptable that over a quarter of workers in Newham earn below the minimum wage, and this must change. Fair wages for local people are at the heart of our plans for building a better Newham.’

‘I am now calling on other businesses to follow the lead of the council, Tate & Lyle Sugars, West Ham United, the Union Hand-Roasted Coffee Company and others. We ask businesses to give back to the community through decent pay for local employment, apprenticeships and other ways to bring social value,” she said.’

In addition to Newham’s staff, over 1,500 others are employed by Newham’s 10 local authority trading companies. One, Juniper Ventures, provides professional catering and cleaning services and Ange Souanga, who works for them at Hartley Primary School in East Ham, said: “Before I joined Juniper I wasn’t on the London Living Wage and life was tougher. But now I can pay my bills on time. I can also quickly replace my son’s school uniform when he grows out of it or loses it!  I can also spend some money on myself on things like getting my hair done professionally. All employers should reward their staff properly by paying the Living Wage.”

Laura Gardiner, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “It is excellent news that the London Borough of Newham has joined the movement of over 7,000 responsible employers such as the University of East London, Tate & Lyle Sugars and West Ham United, who all voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff and contracted staff earn enough to live on. The London Borough of Newham's accreditation shows their passion and leadership for employee standards among employers in London, and we hope many others will follow in their footsteps.

“As we begin to rebuild after the turbulence of the last year, having the extra income from the real Living Wage will help to provide workers and their families with stability and security. We look forward to working together with the Council to grow the Living Wage in Newham and working towards making the Royal Docks a Living Wage Place,” she said.

Published: 02 Mar 2021