Local Labour politicians have called for the living wage to be extended to more workers in Dumfries and Galloway after shocking new figures showed that over a quarter of people employed in the region are in low paid jobs.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics indicate that 14,404 people in Dumfries and Galloway earn less than the Living Wage.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray has called for the Living Wage to be extended to workers on public contracts via the Procurement Reform Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament. The change would mean that companies who are procured to carry out work with the public services such as Scottish Government or council departments would have to pay the Living Wage to their staff. Scottish Labour will seek to amend the bill when it has its final reading in Holyrood soon.
The Living Wage is currently set at £7.65 an hour, and would mean a pay rise of over £2,600 to a full time worker on the minimum wage. Scotland spends £10 billion a year on public contracts, and Elaine Murray wants this money to deliver fairer pay for workers in Dumfries and Galloway.
Elaine Murray MSP said “These figures are hugely concerning, and underline why we need to extend the living wage to more workers as soon as possible in Dumfries and Galloway. It is shocking that over 14000 people in our region are still not receiving a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.”
“Being paid a living wage wouldn't just benefit the workers who receive it; that additional money would be spent on goods and services in the local economy and would benefit local businesses too, and would decrease dependency on benefits too.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said, “The council has led the way by not only paying the Living Wage to its staff but giving a clear signal that it wants to extend this to businesses such as homecare providers. But they are limited in what they can do by the current procurement laws and its shocking that the Scottish Government aren’t prepared to change them to ensure companies awarded public contracts pay staff the Living Wage.
“Delivering the living wage will make a huge difference for people facing rising energy bills, mounting debts and spiralling child care costs. It will also improve our local economy, with more money being spent in the region rather going into the pockets of Chief Executives. These latest figures show that the so-called economic recovery isn’t a reality for thousands of people in our region on poverty pay. It highlights the fact that too many of the jobs being created in our region are low paid, part time jobs.”
Labour Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson said, “To have over a quarter of workers being paid below the living wage in Dumfries and Galloway is a shameful record. Had it not been for the council as the largest employer agreeing to introduce the Living Wage then these figures would have been even worse. Over the next few months we will be setting out what we plan to do to try to extend the Living Wage in our area, including our plans to ensure over 500 home carers in the private sector who provide services to the council are paid a Living Wage and proposals to promote the benefits of the Living Wage to private companies. There are already a number of companies in the region who pay the Living Wage because they know having decent pay and conditions is good for their business. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the Living Wage is extended beyond the council, despite the restrictions the current procurement laws. It is clear that if you boost peoples wages, especially those on low pay, you benefit the whole economy because people spend more on local businesses”.