Living Wage Week and what should follow

Two years ago, CLES wrote a paper as part of Living Wage Week exploring the key role of local government in addressing low pay. The paper, which featured in the Guardian, explored the role of local government in paying the Living Wage themselves, in addressing low pay through their enabling role, and through cajoling suppliers to provide more effective terms and conditions for their workers, including better pay.

Beyond the domain of local government

The role of local government remains integral to this agenda; yet if we are to ensure social justice is a core element of growth then it cannot purely be the domain of local government. The commercial sector needs to become far more socially responsible – this means moving beyond narrow debates around Corporate Social Responsibility to a position where they are core component of a better place. This means ensuring their direct workers and those of their suppliers are fairly paid and with equitable terms and conditions; and ensuring they are a key part of place, supporting the voluntary and community sector and contributing towards addressing a host of local economic, social and environmental challenges.

Living wage accreditation and what comes next

Becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer is just one of the means by which businesses can become more socially responsible – others means include those below, which will be explored in a paper to be launched by CLES in the coming weeks, based upon our work on community wealth building:

  • Through creating new and sustainable jobs and apprenticeships for residents of the area in which a business is based;
  • Through encouraging suppliers based in areas of deprivation to address key challenges facing communities in those areas;
  • Through encouraging employees to volunteer and by providing direct support to the voluntary and community sector;
  • Through being environmentally responsible by reducing carbon emissions and having effective environmental management procedures.

Economic growth in the form of increased output and productivity cannot be the only outcomes of business practice; instead there need to be a realisation that addressing social issues can be an input to, and an outcome of, economic growth.

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