Living wage: Ed Miliband pledge over government contracts

 

Ed Miliband: "Above and beyond the minimum wage we need to do more"

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Ed Miliband has unveiled plans to deliver a "living wage" of at least £7.45 per hour for millions of people, if Labour wins the next election.

Whitehall contracts would only go to firms paying the living wage, while those who paid less could be "named and shamed", said the Labour leader.

His speech came at the start of a week of events promoting the idea.

Downing Street backed firms paying a living wage, but said restricting contracts in this way could be illegal.

Others backing the wage include the Scottish government, which says all staff will get the living wage, and London's mayor, who said it made economic sense.

The living wage - which is £7.45 per hour across the UK except for London where it is £8.55 per hour - does not have any legal force, but is part of a campaign by the Living Wage Foundation and Citizens UK.

It is considerably higher than the official minimum wage that employers must legally pay, which stands at £6.19 per hour for those over 21, £4.98 for those over 18, and £3.68 for 16 and 17-year-olds.

As part of its policy review Labour is looking at ways of making the living wage the new norm, including naming and shaming companies who do not pay the wage and introducing rules forcing government contracts to only be given to those firms who pay it.

Number 10 said the government backed a living wage and "would encourage business to take it up" but warned Labour's plans to restrict government contracts in this way could breach EU procurement law.

Mr Miliband said this was "completely ridiculous" because local councils were already showing it could be done.

What is the living wage and how is it calculated?

  • The living wage is calculated to reflect the basic cost of living and is based on the principle that work should pay enough to provide for the essentials of life.
  • It is part of a campaign led by the Living Wage Foundation and Citizens UK.
  • It is an entirely voluntary scheme for employers and the wage is updated every year.
  • The Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University calculates the rate for workers outside London. The Greater London Authority calculates the rate for those in the capital.
  • The latest annual calculation saw the wage rise by 25p from £7.20 to £7.45 for those outside London and from £8.30 to £8.55 for those in London.
  • Living wage employers are expected to implement the new rate as soon as possible, and within 6 months of the announced rise.

During his speech, Mr Miliband said: "Just as in the 1990s, the minimum wage was a signature achievement of the last Labour government.

"So in the coming years, the living wage will be central to our work.

"We need to build an economy where everyone has a stake.

"Not where millions of people feel they never have a chance for a decent life however hard they work."

Employers who have voluntarily committed to pay the living wage are expected to start paying the new higher rate within six months of the announced rise.

The Scottish government, which has been paying directly employed staff the living wage since last year, has announced it will implement the rise from April 2013. This will benefit up to 3,300 workers, it said.

Speaking at the launch of the increased London rate, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said paying the wage made "economic sense" for the city by giving employees more spending power.

'Sharing fairly'

He said: "By building motivated, dedicated workforces, the living wage helps businesses to boost the bottom line and ensures that hard-working people who contribute to London's success can enjoy a decent standard of living."

Marlene Brownlee Marlene Brownlee, a cleaner with Newcastle City Council, thinks she will be £70 a week better off

If everyone was paid the living wage, the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates, the Treasury would save £1,000 a year for every person from less spending on tax credits and from increased tax revenue.

Barclays is one of a number of major companies already paying the living wage while 19 local authorities have been accredited as "living wage employers", including Newcastle City Council.

One of those benefiting is cleaner Marlene Brownlee, who has worked at Newcastle's civic centre for 15 years and estimates she will be about £70 a week better off.

She said: "It'll make a big difference... that little bit extra - well I'm saying little, it's a lot really - is excellent, for me and everybody else at the council."

Mr Miliband unveiled the new policy at Islington Council in London, which recently became another "living wage employer".

He said: "There are almost five million people in Britain who aren't earning the living wage; people who got up early this morning, spent hours getting to work - who are putting in all the effort they can - but who often don't get paid enough to look after their families, to heat their homes, feed their kids, care for elderly relatives and plan for the future.

"Too many people in Britain are doing the right thing and doing their bit, helping to build the prosperity on which our country depends, but aren't sharing fairly in the rewards."

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 583.

    If only it was this easy. Real wages are determined by Supply and demand. If you raise wages above market rate you will reduce demand for labour and increase unemployment. Otherwise lets make minimum wage £50 per hour! I exaggerate to make the point but i am afraid the way to increase wages is to get the economy growing. To do the latter wages may have to go down before they can go up again!

  • rate this
    +101

    Comment number 354.

    I'm sorry, but, why not just raise the 'minimum wage'?

    I also have a fundamental greivance with companies that only pay the minimum wage, as their attitude seems to be "I would pay you less, but it would be illegal for me to do so"

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 274.

    All sounds good and noble, but are we all fogetting that by time of the next general election in 2015, these amounts will not be enough to live on, especially if we continue to experience exponential living costs like we are now? Nice try Ed, but I'm not buying it.

  • rate this
    +97

    Comment number 128.

    I work 35-40 hours a week. I make £6.56 an hour. To get to work I have to drive 36 miles or 45 mins each way. There is no public transport options and I spend £60 a week in fuel. I'm under 21, and i'm just extremely thankful I found a job that doesn't pay £4.93 (the minimum wage for my age group) because I wouldn't even be able to get to work otherwise.

  • rate this
    -69

    Comment number 127.

    This will just deter employers from employing, training & giving experience to those who need it most: young, unskilled, uneducated people. Hmmm, who made up the majority of those involved in the riots? Young, unskilled, uneducated people deprived of economic opportunity.

    If this idea really works, why raise the hourly wage by £20? Because it doesn't work.

 

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    08:58: Preventing extremism BBC Radio 4 Today

    Has the government's Prevent scheme - a key element of its counter-terrorism strategy- failed? Frank Gardner, our security correspondent, says it has worked in some cases, where people have been steered away from extremism at the last minute. But in other cases it has been counter-productive. The scheme has a problem of perception - it is seen by many Muslims as unfairly focussing on their communities, he adds.

    Our correspondent spoke to experts about the scheme. We'll post a link later.

     
  62.  
    08:53: Putin's 'undeclared war' on Ukraine BBC Radio 4 Today
    José Manuel Barroso

    José Manuel Barroso says Europe must not accept Russia seeking to redraw the borders of Europe.

    He told Today: "Putin is saying he respects the sovereignty of Ukraine. But at the same time we know this is the biggest Russian operation since the Second World War in military terms. It's a kind of undeclared war."

    The former President of the European Commission went on to say that he expects the situation to get worse before it gets better.

     
  63.  
    08:47: 'Parliamentary no-man's land' The Daily Telegraph

    Fraser Nelson says the Tories need to be more ambitious if they are to win an overall majority.

    Writing in today's Telegraph, he says: "On its own, 'long-term economic plan' just won't be enough. It will lead not to victory, but to a parliamentary no-man's land."

     
  64.  
    08:44: Sturgeon on Trident The Guardian

    Is Trident a red line for the SNP? In another video posted by the Guardian, Nicola Sturgeon suggests her party could still back a Labour government if it backs renewal of the weapons. But the SNP leader rules out her party voting for it.

     
  65.  
    08:36: Davey: Tories 'crazy' for fracking The Daily Telegraph
    Ed Davey MP

    The Telegraph is reporting Ed Davey's criticism of the faith some Conservatives have in fracking.

    The Lib Dem Energy Secretary said parts of the Conservative Party are "crazy" because they want to "frack every bit of croquet lawn" in Britain.

     
  66.  
    @DPJHodges Dan Hodges, political commentator

    tweets: Someone needs to explain to me how telling Scottish voters "vote SNP and we disenfranchise you" helps make the case for the Union.

     
  67.  
    08:29: Sturgeon on domestic chores
    Strugeon

    Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, has been a vocal advocate of women's rights since taking over from Alex Salmond. It might come as a surprise to some, therefore, that she still irons her husband's shirts. She made the revelation in a video interview with the Guardian. Her husband is SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

    As part of a series of videos, the SNP leader also said she couldn't rule out another independence referendum.

     
  68.  
    08:23: Green conference Eleanor Garnier Political correspondent

    Our correspondent says the Green Party has seen a huge surge in membership over the last year and even had to change venue to fit in all the activists it expects to turn up.

    But leader Natalie Bennett is under some pressure after a poor interview performance last month and our reporter says Ms Bennett "really does need to bounce back."

    There is unprecedented opportunity at this conference, but also unprecedented scrutiny, she concludes.

     
  69.  
    08:19: UKIP 'will reduce immigration' BBC Radio 4 Today
    Mark Reckless MP

    UKIP MP Mark Reckless is on Today defending the party's immigration policy. Asked why the party don't have a target for immigration, Mr Reckless said: "What we are going to do is control the quarter of a million people who come from the EU last year."

    He went on to set out policies including tighter border controls and a points-based system and said: "What that will do will hugely reduce that number of people coming to this country."

     
  70.  
    @FrankRGardner Frank Gardner

    tweets: We'll be discussing the UK Govt's controversial 'Prevent' strategy to counter extremism at 0830 on @BBCr4today

     
  71.  
    08:08: UK 'needs own Abraham Lincoln' The Guardian

    Over on the Guardian, Martin Kettle argues the UK needs its own Abraham Lincoln. If Britain proves to be "a house divided against itself" in coming years, especially with the rise of nationalism, "it will also require someone to fill Lincoln-sized shoes if the house is to continue to stand, both within these islands and in the union with Europe", he says. But he's not confident David Cameron or Ed Miliband have shown they can match the former US president's oratory skills. You can read his piece here.

     
  72.  
    08:04: Chuka: Selfies 'keep it real'
    Chuka Umunna MP

    In an interview with House magazine, Chuka Umunna has praised the selfie. He said: "The thing about selfies is so often you do these posed, formal shots whereas when you are doing a group shot like that, it's a little bit more relaxed, you keep it real. Certainly with young people, it just relaxes the whole thing. And that is what my constituents say: keep it real."

    The Shadow Business Secretary also told House that he finds it awkward being praised for his looks: "I feel a little bit awkward, if I'm honest about it". He added: "It amuses my family, my friends take the piss out of me royally about it."

     
  73.  
    07:53: Bennett interview 'a serious failure' Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News
    Natalie Bennett

    The stumbling performance by Green leader Natalie Bennett in a radio interview last month was a "serious failure" that showed she had failed to prepare and left her colleagues "taken aback", according to the Green leader on Liverpool City Council John Coyne.

    He told the BBC it wouldn't happen again as Ms Bennett would in future rehearse her performance in mock interviews.

    Mr Coyne said: "It's a failure that she was underprepared we know why that happened and we know it will be fixed for the future."

    The criticism comes as Greens meet in Liverpool for their spring conference, gathering in the Liverpool Riverside constituency - which they are targeting at the general election - and where Mr Coyne is a sitting councillor.

    Mr Coyne is chair of the Green Councillors Association and was the first Green on Liverpool council after defecting from the Liberal Democrats.

    He said: "It was a serious failure and we thought it might be damaging to us but one thing that perhaps is saving us from that is people who are attracted to the Green Party tend to have a more generous disposition anyway."

    Asked about the reaction of Greens to a performance he described as "excruciating" he said: "We were taken aback but again in the Green Party we are compassionate and it certainly helped to indicate that we have someone who's a human being."

    Bennett apologised to members after the interview.

     
  74.  
    07:47: Globalisation driving immigration

    Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani digests today's immigration story on his blog. He writes: "The old way of thinking about immigration and how it affects the UK needs to be tossed into the dustbin."

    He adds: "Today's migrants - particularly those from Eastern Europe - may be found in all manner of locations because of the effects of globalisation and the single market."

    Research from Oxford University shows immigration has increased the population of England by half a million in the past three years.

     
  75.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC correspondent

    tweets: Green leader Natalie Bennett will do mock interviews in future to prepare, Liverpool councillor tells me before Liverpool conference

     
  76.  
    07:41: John Major on SNP The Daily Telegraph
    John Major

    Sir John Major has also been giving his views on the rise of the SNP in Scotland. The former Tory prime minister, writing in this morning's Telegraph, says Ed Miliband should rule out a coalition with the nationalists. He says "the SNP would enter into any agreement with Labour with one overriding aim: to break up the United Kingdom". You can read the Telegraph's news story here and Sir John's piece here.

     
  77.  
    @Number10gov UK Prime Minister

    tweets: PM: To everyone in the UK, India and around the world celebrating the festival of colour and arrival of spring, I wish you a happy #Holi!

     
  78.  
    07:30: John Humphrys in Watford BBC Radio 4 Today

    In the latest of Today's 100 seats in 100 days series, John Humphrys has visited Watford to explore what effect marketing has on voter choices. You can listen to his package here.

     
  79.  
    07:23: Plaid to demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland
    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM

    Plaid Cymru say they will demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland in any post-election Westminster coalition talks.

    At the party's spring conference in Caernarfon, party leader Leanne Wood will urge the "Westminster parties" to promise Wales an extra £1.2bn a year.

    More on this.

     
  80.  
    07:16: Labour's video mocking PM on debates You Tube

    Paul Waugh from Politics Home has tweeted a video from Labour contrasting David Cameron's positive and negative stances to TV debates.

     
  81.  
    07:06: PM's debates decision shows 'aristocratic contempt' The Guardian
    David Cameron MP

    John Harris takes up Nick Clegg MP's "Downton Abbey" characterisation of David Cameron's decision on the debates in his column in today's Guardian.

    Harris writes of the PM: "Once he styled himself as a leader who was open and up for a challenge; now he looks more than ever like a cold power politician with a tinge of aristocratic contempt for rules and rituals that need only apply to others."

    Clegg told LBC radio yesterday: "I can't get over the lofty pomposity of the Conservatives. It's as if they think they are ordering a drink in the drawing room of Downton Abbey, telling everybody else what they should do."

     
  82.  
    07:00: SNP influence 'desirable' BBC Radio 4 Today

    Ewan Crawford, a former SNP special adviser, says the trouble for Labour is they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Conservatives during the referendum. At the time, they said there would be no threat to public services and promised "strength and security", Mr Crawford argues, but now they say the Tories would be a disaster. Mr Crawford says the SNP would push Labour to do what Labour actually wants to do. And SNP influence on a Labour government is "desirable", he adds.

     
  83.  
    06:56: Labour MP on Scotland polls BBC Radio 4 Today

    Ian Murray, a Labour MP in Edinburgh, is speaking about the latest polls, which indicate a disastrous result for his party in Scotland could be coming. He admits if his party loses Scotland, Ed Miliband won't be prime minister. He says Labour doesn't want or need a coalition with the nationalists.

     
  84.  
    06:51: Parking leeway introduced

    The government has announced drivers will be given 10 minutes' grace before being fined if they stay too long in council-owned car parks in England. Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, says he wants to end the "war on drivers". The leeway is set to take effect later this month. And it will apply to free and paid-for parking spaces both on streets and in off-street car parks. More here.

     
  85.  
    06:46: Greens 'bigger than UKIP'

    As the Green party heads to Liverpool for their conference today, it's worth remembering that they are believed to have more members than UKIP. In January BBC Online reported the party had 43,829 members compared with UKIP's 41,966. We'll be covering the Green party conference throughout the day.

     
  86.  
    06:41: The papers
    Daily Mail and i front pages on 06/03/15

    This morning's national newspapers feature a number of political stories. Alex Kleiderman has the newspaper review here.

     
  87.  
    06:34: 'UK must support Hong Kong'
    Hong Kong

    The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has urged the government to speak up in support of democracy in Hong Kong or risk damage to the UK's reputation there. The MPs said they were "profoundly disappointed" at ministers' response when China blocked committee members from visiting the former UK colony. Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said the UK wanted democratic "transition". More here.

     
  88.  
    06:28: Greens moot alliance with SNP
    Caroline Lucas

    The Greens are expected to call for a "progressive alliance" with the SNP at their party conference in Liverpool later today.

    Green Party MP and former leader Caroline Lucas will say: "With the rise of the SNP, and with our own Green surge, we have the chance to forge a new grouping in Parliament. A progressive alliance.

    "Of course, in Scotland and in Wales we'll be fighting hard for our distinctive values and policies. Just as we do against those individual Labour and even Lib Dem candidates with whom we have something in common." More here.

     
  89.  
    06:18: 'England's population up'

    A major analysis by the University of Oxford estimates that the population of England has risen by 565,000 since 2011 because of immigration. The Migration Observatory unit says it came up with the projections because similar official data will not be available before the general election. Two-thirds of the rise is attributed to people from the European Union. We'll bring you all the reaction.

     
  90.  
    06:13: Good morning from Westminster

    Hello and welcome to Friday's political coverage. Nick Eardley and Sarah Weaver will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Thursday unfolded.

     

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