Thousands of Edinburgh employees benefit from fair pay after Living Wage campaign
A campaign to boost the number of businesses which become real Living Wage accredited has led to 12,000 Edinburgh workers receiving a direct, guaranteed uplift in pay over the past decade.
Since the Scottish Real Living Wage campaign was first launched in 2013, over 700 Edinburgh businesses have made the voluntary commitment to pay the only wage rate designed to rise in line with the cost of living in the UK.
Those commitments have meant total pay increases to the value of almost £100m over the last 10 years for the lowest paid workers in Scotland’s capital city.
Speaking at an event in Edinburgh on Wednesday to mark Living Wage Week Scotland, councillor Jane Meagher welcomed the achievement but said fair pay must go further.
As co-chair of the Edinburgh Living Wage Action Group and convener of Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work, she said: “We’ve had a record-breaking few years in Edinburgh for Living Wage sign ups and it feels like we’re witnessing a real movement. This year alone we have seen more than 100 businesses sign up as real Living Wage employers, and eight Edinburgh employers committing to the new Living Hours standard. This needs to be celebrated, but we cannot be complacent.
“The next few months and years will be critical because we know that poverty in Edinburgh is rising. Just last week, we declared a housing emergency because we simply do not have enough adequate affordable housing in the city to meet demand. With households facing financial insecurity and Edinburgh’s rents some of the highest in the UK, secure wages are as important as ever.
“We know Edinburgh-based businesses want to help tackle low pay and insecure work, but we know that employers are under increasing pressure. They too face a cost of living crisis, high bills and recruitment challenges.
“As the rate of the Real Living Wage rises to £12 an hour, Living Wage Week and the events hosted here in Edinburgh and across the country provide an opportunity to showcase how far we’ve come, while acknowledging that more work is needed. We need to help employers to make the Real Living Wage the norm. Everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”
Kat Brogan, managing director of Mercat Tours and Co-Chair of the Edinburgh Living Wage Action Group, added: “To any employer who is not there yet but wants to sign up to the Real Living Wage, now has never been a more crucial time. The cost of living – particularly in Edinburgh - remains high.
“As a powerful advocate for Living Wage businesses, our Action Group can provide advice and guide you towards becoming a Real Living Wage employer. It will benefit your team, your business and Edinburgh as a thriving city which offers a fair experience for all.
“The Real Living Wage is a crucial element of ‘Real Living’ – a happy, healthy, fulfilling life – and it’s so important to highlight its importance this Living Wage Week.”
Earlier this year, over 70 delegates from 16 UK towns, boroughs and cities joined the City of Edinburgh Council to call for employers to offer ‘a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work’ at Scotland’s first Living Wage Places Network event. Edinburgh’s selection followed the Scottish Capital’s recognition as a Living Wage City in 2021.
Christine McCaig, projects coordinator at Living Wage Scotland, commented: “We are celebrating the continued progress toward ‘Making Edinburgh a Living Wage City’ this Living Wage Week. Around one fifth of the 3400 accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland are based in Edinburgh, signalling Scotland’s capital city as a significant contributor to the continued growth of the Living Wage employer movement.
“Despite the challenges facing many businesses, more employers are showing their commitment to tackling in-work poverty and demonstrating leadership and resilience at a time when workers need it most.”