Newcastle City Council has become an accredited Living Wage employer.
Both Newcastle and Sunderland became the first local authorities in the North East region to gain this badge of honour.
1.200 council staff, such as dinner ladies, cooks, nursery assistants and cleaners (who kept the city moving during the pandemic) have been paid the Real Living Wage since 2011 which is currently £1.40 per hour higher than the legal minimum.
The council now has a programme to renegotiate its contracts to ensure that suppliers and commissioned services pay the Real Living Wage.
This could be worth £2k a year for full-time employees on lower wages.
According to the charity The Living Wage Foundation, the introduction of the Real Living Wage of £10.90 an hour across the council can bring positive benefits both to the employer and its staff.
It makes a big difference to monthly pay packets.
The upsides of the policy include easier recruitment and retention; better attendance and reduced sickness absence; improved productivity and loyalty to the council and better quality of services.
It also helps to address inequality and deprivation across the city.
The RLW can help combat child poverty too.
Over 42% of youngsters in Newcastle are living in poverty, lacking the necessities of life.
They therefore become excluded from the social and extra-curricular activities which most high-income households take for granted.
As an Accredited Real Living Wage employer, Newcastle Council hopes to encourage other employers, particularly contractors to also pay their staff a RLW which will make the city a fairer place to live.
Every worker both in the city and region deserve a Real Living Wage – the aspiration to make this the norm across the public, voluntary and private sector.