The living wage will make Dumfries & Galloway healthier, as well as wealthier.
That’s the message from Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray and Dumfries & Galloway MP Russell Brown, citing research that showed that paying the living wage would reduce the strain on Dumfries & Galloway health board.
The Labour politicians said that the money saved by the NHS in Dumfries & Galloway could be as much as £500,000 after 2 years and £8million after 20.
The research was conducted by the respected Scottish Public Health Observatory and calculated how much money the NHS could save based on “prevented hospitalisations”.
The figure for Scotland as a whole is more than £250m over a 20 year period.
Elaine Murray MSP and Russell Brown MP are long time campaigners for the living wage and have backed extending it to more low paid jobs like catering and retail and social care.
Scottish Labour plans to extend the living wage have been blocked five times in 2014 by the Scottish Government but both Elaine and Russell have said that this new research shows the case for the living wage to be overwhelming.
There are 16,000 people in Dumfries & Galloway paid less than the living wage.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said:
“The evidence for delivering the living wage is now overwhelming. It makes moral sense, it makes business sense and now it is clear that it will save money for public services, like our NHS.
“Too many people in Dumfries & Galloway need a pay rise. Too many families are one unexpected bill away from choosing between heating and eating. Meanwhile, our NHS is teetering on the verge of crisis, overstretched and underfunded.
“We can tackle both problems with the living wage. That is why I supported plans to extend it to more workers this year. I want to see it in jobs where it would really make a difference, like catering, retail and caring.
“The SNP voted against the living wage five times in 2014. That is simply wrong when over 400,000 people in Scotland are paid less than the living wage, 16,000 in Dumfries & Galloway. It is time to get serious about better pay for workers in this region and across Scotland.”
Russell Brown MP added:
“The benefits of a Living Wage are now here in black in white. Not only will it allow people to actually live instead of just surviving, it will lift a lot of weight off of the shoulders of our vital public services, such as our NHS.
“The SNP talk the talk about delivering the Living Wage here in Scotland, but when push comes to shove they’ve let down working families at every opportunity. There are more people in in-work poverty than out of work poverty in our region and Scotland, and a Living Wage would have brought many of these people out of poverty. It’s time for both the Scottish and UK Government’s to begin championing the Living Wage which will make a huge difference to people’s lives here in Dumfries & Galloway and beyond.”