17 May 2011

A few months ago I wrote about the pro-Cornish wage, advocating a living wage for Cornwall. Labour’s national minimum wage of £5.93 an hour, which rises to £6.08 in October with the qualifying age for this full amount at twenty one, is a godsend for many workers here but it is not enough for a decent standard of living. In London the Greater London Authority (GLA) has adopted the living wage and the supportive Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson, has just increased it to £8.30 an hour. Around a hundred other firms have adopted it and so have University College London and the House of Commons, and London underground cleaners also benefit.

We have to be economically realistic but we also have to aspire to economic and social justice. There are motivational and production advantages too. Cornwall Council is best placed to take the lead on the living wage in the county and it is time to push the council to formally set the adoption of a Cornwall living wage for itself as a serious aim and to seek to implement it in its contracts. The RCHT and university should get involved. I think national companies will only respond nationally.

A practical start would be for the council to confirm what the Cornwall living wage would be. The groundwork done by the GLA and for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation could be readily adapted for Cornwall (see Notes below).

Let us also see the political parties and unions in Cornwall make the adoption of a Cornwall living wage their policy and start campaigning for it. Let us see Cornwall councillors sign up to it. At the same time let us see a push for it among the major local employers in Cornwall.


Here is an excellent list of reasons to support the living wage.

You can read about the London living wage and how it is calculated in A fairer London: the 2011 living wage in London. And A minimum income standard for the UK 2010 is research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation looks at what income would enable most households to achieve “a minimum socially acceptable standard of living”.