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BLOG: Making Dundee a Living Wage City by John Alexander

Posted: 2019-09-12 07:45:26

BLOG: Making Dundee a Living Wage City by John Alexander

Making Dundee a Living Wage City

There’s no doubt that Dundee is going through one of the most exciting periods in its recent economic history. Its physical transformation is well underway and we’re already seeing some of the anticipated benefits of our long term Waterfront regeneration project. We only need to look at the number of people visiting the V&A Dundee to see that Dundee is going to be a real driver of local economic growth. And it’s not just Dundee. Along with our neighbouring authorities, we’re at the heart of the £700m Tay Cities Deal. We have already made considerable progress towards our goal of making the region fairer and smarter through the joint efforts of councils, business and academia and the agreement we signed with the Scottish and UK will deliver a step change in the implementation of our ambitious plans for inclusive growth.

And when we speak about inclusive growth, we mean it. Everyone living here must have the chance to share in the economic success we are enjoying. Because while some of us are thriving, Dundee has more than its share of people struggling against poverty. Benefit cuts are biting deep and people’s wages can’t seem to keep up with their bills and the cost of living. Over the last 18 months I had the privilege of participating in the Dundee Fairness Commission alongside people who told powerful stories of their experiences on low or even no incomes so I know that too many families in Dundee are struggling and we have to do more to help people who find themselves teetering over a financial cliff. Sometimes that means helping people back towards employment. Too often we are talking about households where people are already in work but trapped in low pay.

That’s where the real Living Wage comes in. As local authorities, we can be powerful advocates of the real Living Wage campaign.

By trying to be model employers and paying the real living wage, we can encourage better rates of pay across public, private, and voluntary sector employers. As an accredited Living Wage employer, we are in a strong position to use our procurement activity to create and support more, better paid, jobs in the local economy through our contractors and our extended supply chains.

We are using our investment muscle to encourage every businesses involved in Dundee Waterfront’s regeneration to pledge to pay the Living Wage.  Already we’ve secured the commitment of Sleeperz hotel, the first Waterfront tenant to open for business. Now that we have one hotel in the city paying the real Living Wage, we are keen to persuade other hotels and hospitality businesses to follow suit.

Mike Galloway, our then Director of City Development, made our determination plain when he described our approach:

“I make it clear to any interested businesses that first they must prioritise the employment of local people, and second they must pay the real Living Wage. For me, the presence of a real Living Wage is as important as the V&A itself.”

And now we’re taking another big step forward.  Dundee has recognised as the first city in the UK to achieve recognition as part of the new 'Making Living Wage Places' programme. This will see us aiming for new stretching targets to increase the number of organisations and businesses in the city accredited as Living Wage employers.

The 50 Living Wage employers already accredited in Dundee cover a quarter of all workers in the city, and a new Action Plan sets out how our new alliance with employers intends to double the proportion of workers covered by Living Wage accreditation in Dundee over the next three years.

The Action Plan includes commitments to:

  • Sign up other major employers in the city
  • Encourage employers in retail and hospitality to commit to the real Living Wage
  • Support and celebrate small businesses who join the Living Wage employer movement

In Dundee, we are incredibly proud to be leading the way and championing the real Living Wage cause and piloting this new approach to encourage more local businesses to pay the living wage.  And I’d encourage all local authorities to build on the work you will already be doing to show the leadership needed to make your communities a Living Wage Place, too.


John Alexander is Council Leader at Dundee City Council 

0141 353 0440

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