Andy Burnham launches drive to make Greater Manchester a living wage region as new figures show one in four workers don’t earn enough to live on

Date published: 01 May 2017

Andy Burnham says he will lead by example by ensuring everyone employed by the Mayor and the combined authority earns the Living Wage.

As part of the new Contract with Business, Burnham will develop a Good GM Employers'
Charter – setting out the basic standards and actions expected of good businesses – such
as addressing the gender pay gap and encouraging flexible working. The Charter will also
expect employers to pay the Living Wage.

“At the moment, one in four jobs in Greater Manchester pay less than the Living Wage. For young people, the situation is worse. In some parts of Greater Manchester, 90 per cent of young people earn less than the Living Wage.

“It is unacceptable for people to be in work, yet also in poverty, struggling to make ends meet. There are people in work in Greater Manchester who are forced to use food-banks to top up wages or lack of hours. That is unacceptable and our goal should be to end it.

"If I am elected Mayor of Greater Manchester on 4 May I will expect, over time, all companies in the city region benefitting from public contracts to become living wage employers,” said Mr Burnham.

Three years ago only 16 employers in Greater Manchester paid the living wage. Now there are over 100 living-wage employers in the city region including Manchester Cathedral and FC United.

“We want to back businesses across Greater Manchester to succeed. In return, we will expect businesses to back their staff with decent levels of pay, secure contracts and appropriate employment rights.

“The vast majority of business owners in Greater Manchester care about their employees. Many businesses across Greater Manchester are paying the Living Wage and report the benefits of a motivated and more productive workforce,” said Burnham.

Between 2009 and 2015, the number of agency workers in the city region increased by 24 per cent.

Although agency workers are entitled to some basic working rights, they are not usually entitled to sick pay or maternity, paternity and adoption pay. Crucially, they have no notice period or recourse in the event of dismissal. Research from the Resolution Foundation has found that agency workers also suffer a ‘pay penalty’, earning on average £430 a year less than full-time workers in equivalent roles.

For some, agency work is a choice that fits a particular lifestyle or employment preference. Others say that they are only working in this way because they cannot find a permanent job.

The Living Wage is independently calculated each year to reflect what employees and their families actually need to meet their living costs and is significantly higher than the Government's mandatory minimum wage. The minimum wage is currently £7.20 an hour for those aged 25, £6.95 for 21-24 year-olds and £5.55 for 18-20 year-olds. The Living wage is currently £8.45 for all workers aged over 18 outside London.

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