Info-graphic: Unanimous backing for campaign to secure a better pay deal for Norwich’s working poor
The fight to snare better pay deals for Norwich's thousands of workers who live in poverty received unanimous backing last night.
Norwich City Council's Labour cabinet vowed to work with businesses to ensure people received a better pay rate of �7.20 per hour, known as the living wage, which is based on the basic cost of living.
It is hoped this will reduce the benefits bill, decrease people's individual debts and encourage more spending in the city economy. This rate also increases every year.
Estimates suggest 24,500 of Norwich's 81,600 workers are paid less than �7.35 per hour.
Of these employees, 8,160 are thought to earn below �6.43 per hour. The minimum hourly wage for people aged over 21 is �6.19.
The city council's report also suggests residents who are full-time employees in Norwich earn 12pc lower than the national median earnings, which stood at �26,200 in 2011 according to government figures.
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Alan Waters, cabinet member for finance, said last night this was only the start of the process but he hopes securing living wage status will act as a 'catalyst for change across the city'.
He said: 'I think everyone will be aware of the fact we have a lot of people who work but are in poverty and they rely on benefits, one kind or another, working tax credits, housing benefit, council tax benefit, to bring their income up to a point where they are either out of poverty or still in poverty. This is the beginning of the journey.'
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The city council will need to ensure all of its workers are paid a living wage before it receives the go-ahead.
The authority says it has ensured all staff it directly appoints have been protected from low pay since 1990.
But it estimates up to �95,000 could be needed to ensure council contractors pay their staff a living wage. The city council indirectly employs more than 400 workers through contracts - such as street cleaners - although only around 50 are believed to be paid below the living wage.
The Green Party has been campaigning for change for several years and their leader Claire Stephenson welcomed last night's proposal. Liberal Democrat group leader James Wright said: 'All evidence suggests all people in receipt of living wage spend it locally.'