Ethical employers leading by example with wages

EPS youth workers Jed Sullivan (front), Andy Walker, Dave Blacker, Pete Riley and James Dewhurst (right row) with apprentices (left row) EPS youth workers Andy Walker and Dave Blacker with apprentices
EPS youth workers Jed Sullivan (front), Andy Walker, Dave Blacker, Pete Riley and James Dewhurst (right row) with apprentices (left row) EPS youth workers Andy Walker and Dave Blacker with apprentices
Share this article
Have your say

Workers across Blackpool are set to get a pay-rise thanks to ethical employers signed up to a national fair-pay programme.

Members of the Living Wage Foundation will soon be paying staff £8.45 per hour – £1.25 an hour more than the national minimum wage.

Now a number of ethical employers are leading by example, joining Blackpool Council and Blackpool Coastal Housing as members of the Living Wage Foundation. The pay scheme has been calculated “based on what employees and their families need to live” and has cross-party support as “good for business, good for the individual and good for society”.

In a resort well known for its low-skilled working age population who are either unemployed or poorly paid (the median weekly pay for residents in Blackpool is around 20 per cent less than across the North West, according to the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2016) the extra cash will make all the difference.

Blackpool’s biggest homeless provider, The Ashley Foundation, pays its staff at least the current Living Wage – which stands at £8.25 per hour.

The charity supports and accommodates more than 100 people in Blackpool every night, across three hostels and 40 move-on flats, helping people to develop life-skills, build confidence and regain independence with a team of professional and passionate staff.

Laura Cooper, a manager at TAF, based on Abingdon Street, said: “Paying the Living Wage extends our commitment to treating individuals fairly and in such a way to improve their life chances.

“It demonstrates our commitment to and respect of these staff, who go above and beyond in their work. We know that happy employees who take pride in their roles, will ensure we have happy residents in our hostels.”

More than half of the charity’s 33 staff are paid the Living Wage including cleaners, chef/housekeepers and duty supervisors. And they can now look forward to a pay rise as the Living Wage rate is set to rise to £8.45 per hour next year.

The charity’s founder and CEO, Lee Dribben, said he was persuaded to implement the pay scheme after reading a compelling blog post by Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn about paying staff well.

Social enterprise Effective Pedagogy Solutions (EPS) also followed suit. The organisation, based on Bowness Avenue, Mereside, provides youth workers for Blackpool Boys and Girls Club and runs projects to train NEET (not in employment, education and training) young people in skills through meaningful work – paying the majority of its staff the Living Wage.

Jed Sullivan, a director of EPS, said: “We are a Living Wage employer because it is both morally and economically the right thing to do.

“If you want good people, you pay good money. We’ve always seen a commitment from staff, who come to work and do a good job because they are proud of the work they do and the town they work in, but being paid well on top of that makes staff feel valued.

“Employees and their families thrive with good pay. It’s good to know that when staff come to work they can concentrate and enjoy their work, without financial worries.”

Dad-of-two James Dewhurst, a project worker at EPS, agrees – saying more money means less stress in a household.

He added: “More money going into a household means less pressures on relationships, so more harmony, taking away stresses and preventing people getting into debt. I think everyone’s bills have gone up recently so earning that bit more gives people chance to live in better conditions in better houses.

“It gives people more spends for themselves – you can do a bigger shop, get a nicer car, just spend a bit more. The more money that’s put into Blackpool then the more will be spent in local businesses.

“[Being paid the Living Wage] makes employees feel more valued which will give employers better output and work.”

Matt Bamber earns the Living Wage as a cleaner at TAF, supporting him, his wife and their young son. The average pay for a cleaner in Blackpool stands at the government’s minimum wage of £7.20 per hour (for over 25s), meaning TAF cleaners take home around £50 a week more than their peers.

And the additional pay is an extra bonus for Mr Bamber, who has a learning difficulty.

He said: “Earning the Living Wage makes me feel that TAF cares about me. Mine is a minimum wage job but to be paid more makes you feel valued as an employee.

“I’m the only one working in our household so that extra really makes a difference.

“I’m autistic so I’ve found it hard to hold down jobs in the past and I can’t just work anywhere so being here and earning more really suits me.”

The two organisations have been praised by the Living Wage Foundation. Living Wage Foundation director, Katherine Chapman said: “Congratulations to Living Wage employers in Blackpool celebrating Living Wage Week. It is down to the leadership of businesses like The Ashley Foundation, Effective Pedagogy Solutions and many others in Blackpool and across the UK that more workers than ever before are earning a real Living Wage.

“We want to celebrate those organisations making a real difference to families and communities.”

There are nearly 3,000 businesses across the UK, with more than 120,000 employees, who are now paying a Living Wage to meet the cost of living.

Inspired by this, the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Credit Union is now seeking accreditation with the Foundation, having paid the Living Wage to its staff for years and saying it is encouraged by the credentials it offers and the message it sends out to others.

The Credit Union, based on Birley Street, has a staff of six, all of whom have been paid more than the minimum wage since it was established in 2009.

Chief executive Mike Barry said: “As a Credit Union we understand that investing money in an individual is investing money in a town. We believe everyone deserves to be paid a fair wage for the work they do.

“We are an ethical co-operative organisation and we want to support our staff as much as we support the community – we exist to keep money in the local economy.

“We’re about improving people’s financial lives which in turn improves people’s lifestyles and wellbeing.”

Other Fylde coast employers registered with the Living Wage Foundation include: UR Potential CIC, Jobs, Friends & Houses CIC, Catch 22 bus service, Moulton Printing, Danbro Accountancy, British Independent Utilities and Majestic