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Guest Blog by Bruce Forbes, Director of Angus Housing Association

Posted: 2017-11-10 09:52:11

Guest Blog by Bruce Forbes, Director of Angus Housing Association

 

Angus Housing Association has paid the Living Wage for a number of years already. We committed to this idea early on and brought all the wages of our cleaning and caretaking staff up to the Living Wage.   This happened immediately after our employer umbrella organisation, Employers in Voluntary Housing and UNITE reached an agreement to promote the Living Wage to their member employers in 2011.  When I accepted an award from the STUC at their conference in the Caird Hall in Dundee to mark EVH’s commitment to the Living Wage, it was one of the proudest moments of my working life.

More recently, we have been formally accredited as a Living Wage Employer. Being a responsible employer is very important to us and nothing is more important than ensuring our lowest paid employees are properly paid.

As an organisation, we receive public subsidy to help us build homes for rent.  It is my view that any organisation receiving public subsidy should first be able to demonstrate that it has Living Wage Accreditation. Too often nowadays, I hear social businesses, like Housing Associations, discussing costs in the context of the “bottom line”. Far too often, I hear stories about employment practices in our sector that are being driven by a “bean counter” mentality.  This both surprises and annoys me.

If there is any sector which should have a clear vision of the impact of a low wage economy and an austerity led welfare regime on the working poor, it is social landlords. We see the effect, at first hand, on our tenants on minimum or lower wages. Families who struggle to deal with the basics of life like paying their rent and feeding their children, simply to boost the profits of their employers. These same employers, of course, then rely on the state to provide healthcare and other services to their workforce.

If we are to describe ourselves as responsible social landlords, we must surely recognise that paying our own employees properly is, inherently, one of these responsibilities.

That is why I believe that all Housing Associations and their subsidiary companies should commit to achieving Living Wage accreditation or risk losing their future receipt of both public subsidy and the support of their tenants and the wider public that they currently enjoy.

 

If you would like to share your experience of the Living Wage in your workplace please get in touch via accreditation@povertyalliance.org

0141 353 0440

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