2 November 2015

Today increases in the living wage have been announced. Outside London it rises to £8.25 an hour and in London £9.40 an hour.

Slowly the wage is spreading. 2000 businesses are now signed up to it. They include major national companies like Barclays Bank and Lidl and in Cornwall a growing number of local companies and organisations such as Cornwall Council, Volunteer Cornwall, and St Merryn Holiday Park.

However, a large proportion of workers in Cornwall, fulltime and part time, are paid less than the living wage. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that last year 31.6 percent of all workers in Cornwall were paid less than the then living wage.

Let us welcome the progress but push for more to get it.

Note that this is the real living wage not George Osborne’s “national living wage” which will be £7.20 an hour for those over twenty five.


5 October 2015

Faced with low pay and employers unwilling or unable to pay a real living wage, the Labour government introduced tax credits, a means of topping up unlivable low pay with taxpayers’ money. A civilised and sensible approach, it seriously helps very many people, who also receive other financial benefits such as help with rent.

The Tory government now wishes to move away from state subsidy for low pay and dependency on benefits. It considers employers should pay their workers decent wages, hence Osborne’s compulsory “national living wage” of £7.20 an hour from next April for workers aged twenty five and over, and this, with other measures, the Tories say enables a reduction in tax credits to the low paid. The current real living wage is £7.85 an hour outside London and that rate applies to workers aged twenty one and over.

I heartily agree that all workers should be paid at least a real living wage: workers should have the proper recognition of their labour and the simple dignity of earning enough to live decently, even well, and provide good security and stability for their families. A proportionate reduction in state subsidy to low pay should then follow. The question is: have the Tories got the arithmetic right, does their simultaneous give-this-take-away-that of their July 29015 budget add up? The independent expert Institute for fiscal studies (IFS) says it doesn’t and that around 3 million low paid families will overall lose as much as £1300 a year from the Tory changes. I gather individuals will learn of their quantified losses in December, the month of Christmas. The IFS damagingly describes the budget as “regressive”.

Sensible proposals have been suggested, by Frank Field among others, to mitigate the presumably unintended losses but David Cameron has insisted there will be no loss of income for the poor and his government will not change anything in their plans.

Well, that confirms the Conservatives as the stupid party – and the nasty party. I think the stupidity will tell against them most.

The risks for the government are so big that I believe there will be mitigating changes. It will be interesting to see how Cameron explains that.


On 6 October in a platform speech at the Tory party conference Boris Johnson, mayor of London, and known to fret genuinely about those 3 million losing families, said of the government welfare changes: “we must ensure…we protect the hardest working and lowest paid: the retail staff, the cleaners…”

Today the minimum wage goes up by 20p to £6.70 an hour for those aged twenty one and over. That is well below the real living wage*, currently £7.85 an hour in Cornwall and elsewhere outside London, but nevertheless a welcome move in a progressive direction. The minimum wage was introduced by Labour in 1999 and has improved life for very many low paid workers. Next month a new real living wage rate will be announced.

Today’s rise comes shortly after Morrisons, the supermarket, announced it was to pay its workers a minimum of £8.20 an hour from March 2016, though with some loss of pay perks. Lidl had announced a rise to £8.20 an hour from this month.

This spring Cornwall Council began paying the living wage to its direct employees. Slowly, very slowly, we are becoming a real living wage county. I’ve noted the heroes in other posts and here note and praise Mother Ivey’s Bay and St Merryn holiday parks as living wage employers.

What is happening is that pioneers in various sectors – retail supermarkets, holiday businesses, care homes , local government, banks, insurance – are showing that paying decent wages is possible across the economy. There are still employers to persuade; there are still on-board companies with off-board contractors.

Oh, that asterisk * on the first line. By living wage I mean that determined after research by the Centre for research in social policy (CRSP) at Loughborough University and Living Wage Foundation, the real living wage. Not George Osborne’s “national living wage” which is currently less, will apply only to those aged twenty five and over, and is misleadingly named.


14 May 2015

A light amidst the gloom of May 7.

I see that Jude Robinson won a seat for Labour on Cornwall unitary council in a by-election in Camborne. She is very able and I warmly welcome her return to the council to strengthen the progressive group of members. When she was previously on the council she was the one who first publicly pressed the living wage upon the councillors; she paved the way and opened minds to its adoption.

Related post

Cheers, Jude Robinson 29 October 2012

The living wage has gone up to £7.85 an hour outside London. In London it’s now £9.15.

The wage is what is needed to live a decent but basic life. It motivates workers and increases productivity, enables them to better provide for their families, and is a matter of economic justice.

The adult minimum wage is £6.50 an hour, too little to live on.

Cornwall Council has agreed to introduce the living wage for its employees from next year; that is a sterling decision which will make life better for many workers and their families in Cornwall; a robust part of the pro-Cornish agenda. I think the council should now look to its subcontractors and press them to pay the living wage and insist on it in all new contracts so far as the law allows.

A few others in Cornwall have also adopted or are adopting the living wage: Sunshine Care, Penzance and Camborne town councils, Falmouth Students Union, Atlantic House Signs at Delabole. National organisations like Nationwide, Aviva, Barclays Bank, and Abbeyfield are accredited living wage employers. You can read a list here. The example of Penzance and Camborne town councils should encourage other local councils here to introduce the wage for their employees and seek to make it a condition of all contracts. The examples of Sunshine Care and Abbeyfield should inspire others in that section to move to the living wage: it can be done.

Still to do
And others in Cornwall, wholly or with branches, still have not signed up to the living wage for their employees: for example banks, supermarkets, NHS bodies, police, solicitors. Cleaning and catering workers are among those paid less than the wage and they are often employed by third parties. We must press the private companies to insist on contracts that include the living wage.

We should lobby the political parties to support legislation to enable public bodies to insist on the living wage as a core part of a contract.

A start has been made by a capital few. We must press the slow and reluctant ones. Let us have a high aim: Cornwall, a living wage county.

Earlier posts on the living wage
Living wage spreads in Cornwall 19 June 2014

Living wage hallelujah 5 May 2014

Paid less than the living wage in Cornwall: how many and where 1 April 2014

Cornwall and the decency threshold 7 November 2013

Penzance town council, a living wage employer 29 October 2013

Cornwall Council and the living wage 16 August 2013

Living wage for Cornwall 22 July 2013

Cheers, Jude Robinson 29 October 2012

A proper Cornish wage 10 May 2012

Progress to a living wage 29 June 2011

A living wage for Cornwall 17 May 2011

The pro-Cornish wage 31 August 2010

Cornwall Council is set to implement the living wage for its directly employed staff from 1 April 2015: see here. The wage is presently £7.65 an hour.

This is excellent progress and the Council and union negotiators deserve warm congratulations on having the vision to work for social justice during a time of austerity. More cheers for Jude Robinson who introduced the living wage to unitary councillors in autumn 2012 – the pace of progress is remarkable.

Jerusalem is not yet. The post I put up a month ago pointed out that nearly 30 percent of fulltime workers in Cornwall are paid less than the living wage; and let me quietly note the gaps in the council proposals: the indirect employees and contractor workers; the council should go on to tackle these. Additionally, we should now look to other employers in Cornwall, large and small, to follow the excellent lead of the council – and of Sunshine Care, Abbeyfield care homes, and Penzance Council.

I first wrote about the living wage for Cornwall in August 2010. Let me recall how I ended that post: “The living wage is the pro-Cornish wage, part of the real pro-Cornish agenda. Let’s go for it.” Nevermind the gewgaws of nationalism. This, the living wage, is the way to honour and respect the people of Cornwall and their work.

UPDATE 26 May 2014
The trade union ballot has approved the living wage which will be introduced from 1 April 2015. The agreement includes a pay freeze: if this applies to the living wage it will see the living wage in Cornwall shrink below the national figure over the time of the freeze.

Jerusalem is not yet: Matthew Arnold A French Eton Part 3, about the crusade of Peter the Hermit

The post Paid less than the living wage in Cornwall: how many and where has not only data but also links to previous posts on the living wage.

The TUC, using ASHE data, has published an analysis of how far the living wage is paid in different parts of Britain. The TUC analysis is here.

In Cornwall 29.7 percent of all full time workers and 44.6 percent of all part time workers were paid less than the living wage in April last year, £7.45 an hour outside London then but now £7.65. The TUC has published the figures for both local authorities and parliamentary constituencies; there are striking differences among the Cornwall constituencies.

I have argued in several blog posts that workers in Cornwall should be paid the living wage and that Cornwall Council should take the lead in this. I put these posts at the foot of this one. There is a mountain to climb in Cornwall but there are very bright spots: Abbeyfield Society care homes in Britain are to pay the living wage. There are ten Abbeyfield Society homes in Cornwall. Excellent news and well done indeed Abbeyfield.

ASHE Annual survey of hours worked and earnings, published by the Office for national statistics (ONS)

Previous posts on the living wage are here

Cornwall and the decency threshold 7 November 2013

Penzance town council, a living wage employer 29 October 2013

Now is the time for Cornwall 12 October 2013

Cornwall Council and the living wage 16 August 2013

Living wage for Cornwall 22 July 2013

Cheers, Jude Robinson 29 October 2012

A proper Cornish wage 10 May 2012

Progress to a living wage 29 June 2011

A living wage for Cornwall 17 May 2011

The pro-Cornish wage 31 August 2010

And these are relevant

The living wage (House of Commons library note) 11 November 2013

What are the benefits of the living wage? from the Living Wage Foundation

Home truths by Vidhya ALEKESON and Giselle CORY, Resolution Foundation 12 July 2013

Low pay Britain by Matthew PENNYCOOK and Matthew WHITTAKER, Resolution Foundation 29 September 2012

What price a living wage? Matthew PENNYCOOK, Resolution Foundation 7 May 2012

Minimum wage: maximum impact Alan MANNING, Resolution Foundation 17 April 2012