Rebuilding social justice  |  Successes  |  30.08.2011

Real wages for real work - Brighton & Hove

While most European countries have adopted a statutory minimum wage, in many cases it is at a level insufficient for a standard of living above the poverty level. It is therefore insufficient to talk about a ‘minimum wage’, when what is required is a ‘living wage’. This inspired the introduction in Brighton & Hove of a ‘living wage’ for Council workers in the spring of 2011; a 60 pence an hour increase that would ensure a decent standard of living for all those employed by the Council. This was partly paid for with a pay cut for senior executives, which reduced the ratio between highest and lowest earners to 11:1.

This was one of the first acts of the UK’s first Green-led Council, who were elected in May 2011. They did this in their first 100 days in office, as an indication of their commitment to social justice as a core Green pillar. This was achieved in spite of the difficult fiscal situation facing the UK, where Councils are facing cuts to their budgets which could impact on the most vulnerable in society. 

The Brighton & Hove Greens want to expand this living wage beyond council workers. To this end, they have established a “living wage commission” to examine the benefits, risks and challenges of introducing a living wage in the city’s private and third sector. This has the support of a range of community actors, including Unions and business leaders. It will report next year and will act of a blue print for how a living wage can be extended across Brighton & Hove. 


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