“I have done low-paid retail jobs in the past so I know what it’s like to struggle,” said Keith Dowling, co-owner of one of the first businesses to benefit from the council’s scheme to encourage local firms to pay their employees at least the London Living Wage.
Post and Packing in Churchfield Road, Acton, is accredited as a London Living Wage employer, and Mr Dowling (pictured above with the business’s certificate) said: “I think it is so important. I worked my way up and I believe strongly in fair pay.”
Up to £2,000 in business rate relief was made available by the council for each of the first 100 local businesses to sign up to become an accredited London Living Wage employer: Something the council did itself in 2013.
The London Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the capital – currently at £9.40 an hour, which is £2.20 above the national living wage.
According to the London Poverty Profile, published by the Trust for London, currently more than 25% of the jobs in our borough are ‘low paid’, contributing to levels of in-work poverty, and child poverty.
‘One of my conditions of opening’
Prior to opening Post and Packing in September last year, Mr Dowling worked for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The new business is a franchise which he owns 50-50.
“I made being accredited one of the conditions of me giving up my nursing job, which I loved,” he said. “It was my dream job.
“First of all, paying the London Living Wage is only fair and an improvement on the minimum wage. And, secondly, if we did it from the start it made it easier to budget for.
“It is beneficial to the business, as well, because it helps to get the right people in as staff and to then retain them.”
‘Incredibly simple’ to do
PAG Leisurewear in Ealing was another of the first local companies to sign up for accreditation.
Partner at PAG Leisurewear Emmie Hanreck said: “The London Living Wage is a clear, elegant, statement about the ethics of the business, backed by a financial decision that can’t be smudged or worked round and the accrediting process is incredibly simple.
“Pay your staff what they need to live a respectable life. We need our people to care, perform and be an asset to the business; the living wage is one of the fundamental steps to achieve that.”
Fair pay recognition a boost to reputation
Councillor Peter Mason, the council’s Living Wage champion, and cabinet member for prosperity, skills, employment and transformation, said: “I congratulate the businesses that are committing to paying the London Living Wage and taking advantage of the council’s scheme.
“We want the borough to become a Living Wage borough and I hope the example being set by these local businesses will set a precedent for others to follow – and will make sure staff are paid a fair wage.
“Those who have signed-up to the scheme are effectively being recognised as good employers and thereby enhancing the reputation of their business. It is a good thing for everyone concerned.
“Accredited employers are eligible to use the Living Wage employer logo. This increases their appeal to employees, helping to retain and hire staff; and could also potentially improve their attractiveness to customers and funders.”
Council leader Julian Bell said: “We are determined to make Ealing a fairer and more prosperous borough and, therefore, we want our residents to be paid a decent wage. But we also want this to be a great place to run a business, so we are doing our bit to help by offsetting the cost of accreditation.”