LOW paid workers in Wirral could soon see a boost to their earnings after senior politicians agreed to champion the Living Wage.
Birkenhead MP Frank Field and the leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Phil Davies, have launched a strategy in the hope of boosting the earnings of low paid workers in the north west.
At a summit in Birkenhead last Friday, the duo established a regional network consisting of trade unions, local authorities and employers to work towards lifting the hourly rate of pay for as many workers as possible to a Living Wage.
Mr Field said: “There are half a million workers across the region who aren’t paid enough to live on.
“They are working for their poverty. Our plan is to ensure they are instead able to earn a wage that meets the cost of living and reduces the burden on taxpayers, who currently foot the £20bn bill to subsidise low pay.
“If an employer is able to pay their staff a living wage, we should be encouraging them to do so.”
Birkenhead MP Frank Field and Wirral Council leader Phil Davies have joined forces to champion the Living Wage.
It has been agreed that the network will spread best practice through a number of measures, including accreditation, procurement and offering incentives for local employers.
The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK and is updated annually.
At present, employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis.
Wirral Council last year agreed to pay its staff a Living Wage.
Council leader Phil Davies said: “I am delighted that Wirral Council has taken a lead on championing the Living Wage.
“This is a key element of our anti-poverty strategy as well as making good business sense.
“Local councils can act as a catalyst for other organisations to embrace the Living Wage and I believe the north west network we have established will help spread good practice throughout our region.”
Senior Wirral Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly said "Cllr Davies has been saying how much he supports the Living Wage and how much he wants all Wirral Employers to pay a Living Wage – I support him in this, having been the first to suggest the council pays a Living Wage to its own staff.
"However at their meeting on Thursday Wirral's cabinet will be agreeing the fees payable to residential and care homes were the assumption made for wage rates for some of the staff working in the homes is to be minimum wage rather than the Living Wage.
"The first step in achieving the aspiration of a Living Wage Borough must surely be that the council ensures those it contracts with for services are Living Wage employers and the Council factors in a Living Wage when making its decisions.
"It seems to me we are getting a lot of talk and posturing from the Labour Leader which won't be backed up with action when chances arise."