Leading a city-wide celebration of the real Living Wage during national Living Wage Week, business leaders met at Dentons’ office on Midsummer Boulevard to launch a new employers network.
The aim of the network is to promote the real Living Wage, which is different from the government’s new national minimum wage premium for over-25s (dubbed ‘living wage’ in the Chancellor in his budget statement) because it is voluntary for employers and linked annually to the real cost of living. The new hourly rate of the real Living Wage outside London was announced nationally on Monday 2nd November as £8.25 per hour.
At breakfast event John Cove, CEO of MK Dons SET, which has just become MK’s 14th Living Wage employer, said: “As soon as we knew that it was a viable option for the MK Dons SET, we worked towards becoming an accredited Living Wage employer. We hope this goes a small way to showing our appreciation to everyone within our organisation. As Richard Branson once said, if look after your staff, they will look after your customers.”
Karen Robson, Head of Cost Management & Procurement at Santander UK, an accredited Living Wage employer since February, said: “The wellbeing of our employees, both direct and indirect, is paramount to the success of our organisation, as well as our goal to being a bank that is simple, personal and fair. This is why we decided last year to become an accredited Living Wage employee. We see real benefits in treating our sub-contracted staff as part of the bank now.”
Ben Stapleton of KPMG, one of MK’s first accredited Living Wage employers, said: “For us it’s been a win-win situation. We find our staff are less stressed, more confident and see their families more often. The Living Wage also benefits us from a business and economic perspective in that the turnover of our contracted staff has halved and we are paying less in recruitment fees. Staff morale is higher and productivity has increased.”
Tracy Schembre, Pastry Chef at The Open University, which achieved Living Wage accreditation in 2013, said: “Me and my husband both work full time to make ends meet, so family trips to the cinema and bowling have been few and far between. Now I have the Living Wage we can put that extra money aside so once a month we can now have a family day out without worry, which in turn has brought our family unit closer and happier together.”
Julia Upton, Chief Executive of MK Community Foundation, which achieved Living Wage accreditation in 2014, said: “Our Vital Signs 2015 report shows that, despite MK’s business success, many MK workers remain poor. We are delighted that MK’s voluntary sector organisations have led the way with Living Wage accreditation and hope more private sector companies will now sign up so more workers are paid fairly.”
Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council, also committed to becoming a Living Wage employer, said: “We need to avoid MK becoming a twin track city. It’s only right that every worker gets a decent day’s pay for a decent day’s work. MK should become the first Living Wage city, an exemplar in the UK and internationally.”
Debbie Wilson, Citizens:mk’s campaign leader, said: “Our campaign is going from strength to strength and we are already half way towards creating MK’s first Living Wage Zone at the Pinnacle Building on Midsummer Boulevard. For us it is important that MK’s fantastic business success remains linked to fair pay for all its workers. We need more businesses to go beyond the legal minimums.”
Lucian Hudson, Director of Communications at The Open University and Chair of Citizens:mk, said: “It is exciting for Citizens:mk to be working with some of MK’s most successful businesses. I hope we can develop these partnerships to address other social issues so that MK’s impressive prosperity is increasingly shared by all its people.”
In a separate event, on Tuesday 3rd November, the Bishop of Buckingham hosted a Living Wage Faith Breakfast, also organised by Citizens:mk, for MK clergy and other faith leaders at Christ the Cornerstone Church in Central Milton Keynes.
Pictured: Liam Farquhar and Cormac Slevin of KPMG introduce the concept of MK Living Wage Employers Network