Guest Blog: Councillor Chris Weaver, Cardiff Council
In 2012, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet agreed that the Council should become the first in Wales to pay its entire staff the real Living Wage. This was a big commitment to make with austerity affecting the whole of the public sector and the Council facing severe budgetary pressures. But we made the decision to invest in our staff by paying them a wage they could live on because a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. It costs the Council around £1 million each year to pay all staff the real Living Wage and as a result, over 2,200 full and part time employees have benefited from a pay rise. These employees are predominately women, working as school club supervisors, cleaners and kitchen assistants. We were proud to become an accredited Living Wage Employer with the Living Wage Foundation in November 2015 and we’re now the longest standing accredited Council in Wales.
We asked a Council cleaner and catering assistant who have benefited from the Living Wage what difference this pay rise has made to their lives:
“I have definitely noticed the difference. I’m about £65 to £70 a month better off and this is helping me pay off some off my debts. It offers a little relief from the pressure.”
“Living Wage changed my life in many ways. I used to work long hours for a set wage. My wife didn’t work at all, she couldn’t because she was looking after children. Now with Living Wage in place we both can work, we can divide responsibilities. I can spend time with my family and children and our family life is much happier. I feel much more appreciated in the workplace and thanks all to the Living Wage. It made absolutely an amazing difference to our lives.”
Since gaining Living Wage accreditation, we have actively promoted the real Living Wage in Cardiff through advertisement on bin lorries, displaying the logo in all our Council buildings and on the Council job page. In 2017, we set up Living Wage Accreditation Support Scheme to encourage more SMEs to pay the real Living Wage by covering their accreditation costs for 3 years. We’ve also undertaken a range of marketing activities to promote the scheme including sending information to 4,000 business in Cardiff and making a video with Living Wage Employers and employees to promote the benefits of paying the real Living Wage.
Earlier this year, the Welsh Government published its Code of practice: Ethical employment in supply chains which included the Living Wage as one of its 12 commitments – we were the first local authority to sign up. Encouraging payment of the Living Wage is built into the Council’s Socially Responsible Procurement Policy and will now feature in tender documentation for contracts over £1 million.
Our end goal is for Cardiff to eventually be recognised as a ‘Living Wage’ City. To achieve this, we’ve made a five-year plan and committed to acting as a Living Wage advocate, encouraging more employers to take a stand against low pay and join the Living Wage movement.
Councillor Chris Weaver, Cabinet Member for Finance, Modernisation and Performance at Cardiff Council
Cardiff Council are shortlisted for the Local Authority Leadership Award in the 2018 Living Wage Champion Awards. The Awards celebrate individuals and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to the Living Wage movement, find out more here.