Scottish Borders launches Living Wage ambition

16 May 2023

An alliance of prominent local Living Wage employers in the Scottish Borders have today launched an action plan setting out how they will work together on “Making Scottish Borders a Living Wage Region”. This expands upon previous work to make Eildon a Living Wage Place.

The ambitious action plan has been developed by the Scottish Borders Living Wage Action Group which is a collaboration of employers and stakeholders from across the public, private and third sectors. They aim to accredit 60 new employers and uplift 600 workers to the real Living Wage over 3 years, more than doubling the number of accredited employers in the region. The Action Group will focus on key industries in the region such as Hospitality and Tourism, Social Care, Construction, and Agriculture.

There are over 3000 accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland, with 50 accredited employers in the Scottish Borders already committed to voluntarily paying staff the real Living Wage. However, thousands of workers in the region still earn less than a real Living Wage. It is hoped that today’s announcement will encourage more employers to join the movement to ensure workers earn enough to meet their needs.

The real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate calculated according to the costs of living. It is currently £10.90 and was announced in September 2022 in response to the cost-of-living crisis. This rate is significantly higher than the government minimum for over 23s which at present stands at £10.42 per hour. A worker paid the real Living Wage earns an extra £936 per year more than a worker paid the National Living Wage.

Since 2011 the Living Wage movement has delivered a pay rise to over 60,000 people in Scotland and put over £370 million extra into the pockets of low-paid Scottish workers.

Seonaid Mann, Fair Work and Equality Lead at South of Scotland Enterprises and Co-Chair of Scottish Borders Living Wage Group said:  

“I am delighted to be co-chairing the newly launched Scottish Borders Living Wage Action Group, primarily because the premise of the group is about taking actions that will have tangible benefits for the people living and working in the Borders. It is completely unacceptable that there are people in Scotland living in in-work poverty.  The need for everyone to earn at least the real living wage isn’t about greed, nor is it about the luxuries of life, it is about being able to afford the basics. It can make the difference between a family being able to eat regular, nutritious meals or going hungry – it genuinely is that simple.

Payment of the real Living Wage is a win-win situation for employers too as those who commit to the rate have reported seeing improvements on recruitment, retention, productivity and other areas of their business which can all consequently positively impact their bottom line.”

Robin Tatler, Executive Member for Communities and Equalities and Co-Chair of Scottish Borders Living Wage Group said: 

“Today we launch our ambitious plans for Making Scottish Borders a Living Wage region as the next step in our initiative to encourage employers to commit to paying the real Living Wage. This will expand upon the work that has already been undertaken within the Eildon locality since 2021.

We know employers across the Scottish Borders care about their people and want to ensure they are looked after. Committing to paying the real Living Wage can be an important part of an organisation caring for their staff whilst ensuring their business is resilient and sustainable in these challenging times. I hope that today’s announcement of our plans will encourage more employers to become Living Wage accredited and join our growing network across the Region.”

Rachael Sudlow, HR Business Partner at Farne Salmon said:

“We are delighted to be members of the newly launched Scottish Borders Living Wage Action group – joining together to promote the commitment to pay the real Living Wage in our region. We were delighted to become accredited in 2022, and to achieve paying the real Living Wage for all our employees. We feel that not only is this a positive representation of our commitment to our employees, but we also understand that it makes a difference during these challenging economic times.”

Christine McCaig, Living Wage Project Co-ordinator said:  

“We are delighted to support the Scottish Borders Living Wage Action Group in their ambition in Making Scottish Borders a Living Wage Region. The Living Wage Places scheme provides an opportunity for employers and stakeholders to work collaboratively towards ending in-work poverty. We hope to see many more employers joining the likes of Farne Salmon, and Borders College by becoming accredited and ensuring people earn what they need to live on.”

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