Better work in the North East - the campaign to make Newcastle a Living Wage City

Author: Laura Elliot

Last week the Living Wage Foundation held an event with leading employers from across the city to celebrate the official launch of the action plan to make Newcastle a Living Wage City. This three-year plan aims to drive forward the Living Wage agenda and tackle in-work poverty. VONNE’s Member Services Manager, Laura Elliot, joined the event to hear more about the campaign and find out how our sector can play its part.

The inspiring speaker line-up included Living Wage employers sharing the reasons they signed up for accreditation and employees who work at Living Wage organisations explaining the difference it makes to them. VONNE has been a long-time advocate of the Living Wage movement - a minimum hourly rate of pay set independently and updated annually, based on the cost living in the UK - and we achieved our Employer Accreditation in 2016. 

There are a host of reasons to support the Living Wage movement, from retaining and attracting better staff to improving staff productivity and motivation and boosting your organisation’s reputation. When surveyed by The Living Wage Foundation, 94% of accredited employers reported having benefitted from their accreditation.

Speaking at the event, Dan Appleby, Managing Director of Newcastle-based Living Wage employer Drummond Central, said that paying the Living Wage helps them keep talent in the North East. According to the Living Wage Foundation website, only 312 of its 14,559 accredited employers are based in our region. With the North East VCSE sector struggling to recruit quality candidates, could more employers committing to paying the Living Wage be part of the answer?

Conversations with VONNE’s members and networks show there is support for paying the Living Wage, however, that ambition can face challenges when it comes to delivery. Pressures on income, changes to Local Authority funding and increased demand for services mean organisations in our sector face difficult choices when setting salaries for lower paid roles. VONNE has worked with our Funders Network to build support for the Living Wage. However, at our last Conference we heard from members who struggled to compete in tender processes if they tried to pay the National Living Wage even when their funder was supportive.

There are no easy answers, but VONNE will continue to work with our members and networks to play our part in enabling the North East VCSE sector to be part of the Living Wage movement.

Want to get involved? If you want to join other North East employers and sign up to the Living Wage movement, fond out how to become an accredited employer. If you’re already accredited , why not show the logo on your website and in communications? You can also get involved by writing a blog or case study, promoting Living Wage Week and nominating Living Wage Champions.

Want to know more about the action group behind making Newcastle a Living Wage City? Find out more and get in touch on the Living Wage Foundation’s website.