Call for more firms in the region to pay the voluntary living wage

PUBLISHED: 10:49 01 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:49 01 November 2016

Daniel Childerhouse, chief executive of Future Projects, at the Future Education building on Motum road, Norwich.
Photo by Simon Finlay

Daniel Childerhouse, chief executive of Future Projects, at the Future Education building on Motum road, Norwich. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

One in five employees in East Anglia is not receiving the voluntary living wage rate, new figures show.

Some organisations paying the voluntary living wage

Voluntary living wage-accredited employers in the region include Aviva, social enterprise Mow and Grow, wholefoods seller Rainbow Wholefoods and Swallowtail Print, all based near Norwich.

Adrian Mann, managing director of Swallowtail Print, said a small number of staff had been impacted by the real living wage but he thought it was important for businesses to be on an even keel.

Stuart Wright, Aviva’s property and facilities director, said: “Everyone working at Aviva in the UK, whether they are a permanent employee or an on-site contractor receive at least the real living wage.”

Richard Austin, founder of Rainbow Wholefoods, said while the company had already paid its staff enough 
to qualify it was important to spread the message and feel part of a community.

For gardening social enterprise Mow and Grow the ethical aspect is important. Chief executive Alexandra Cosgrove said: “It’s the right thing to do. It ensures staff are more motivated and buy in to the business.”

As many as 519,000 employees across the region are earning under £8.25 per hour, the amount calculated by the Living Wage Foundation to be the basic cost of living, research, by KPMG, has revealed.

While the law requires employers to pay anyone over 25 £7.20 per hour, which is known as the national living wage, the foundation recommends the higher figure, which will increase to £8.45 in April, as necessary to meet rising living costs.

Among the organisations paying the voluntary, or real, living wage are insurance giant Aviva as well as Norwich City Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Colchester Borough Council.

Daniel Childerhouse, chairman of Living Wage Norwich and chief
executive of living wage-accredited employer Future Projects, said the living wage made sense at the bottom line as well as from an ethical perspective.

He said: “In business terms the living wage makes sense as it has a massive impact on low pay members of staff.

“It gives them confidence and makes them feel part of a company, it reduces staff sickness and staff turnover.

“If people are earning more than the minimum wage they are less likely to move on which means a reduction in recruiting costs, a reduction in training costs and it has a knock-on effect in terms of efficiency and experience as staff are employed for longer.”

Living wage accredited employers must also ensure their supply chain and contractors are being paid the living wage to qualify which
means that there is a trickle-down effect, say supporters.

Ipswich Borough Council has confirmed it will continue to pay the higher rate and said its contractors had seen benefits from employees receiving more.

Its contract cleaning staff are employed by Norse and facilities firm’s regional managing director Mark Emms said Norse had seen a reduction in staff sickness and turnover rates which had in turn reduced costs for the council.

Events have been organised for Living Wage Week this week including a launch at Aviva’s Marble Hall from noon to 2pm today.

How has the living wage affected your business? Write to

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