Low paid workers and tax payers in Dorset set to gain from new “Living Wage” campaign

living wage is moral value rszLow paid workers and tax payers in Dorset are set to benefit from a new campaign being launched to persuade local employers to pay a so called “Living Wage” of £7.45 an hour. The campaign group – called Living Wage for Dorset (LWD) – is backed by a number of faith groups, community organisations, political parties and trade unions in the county who claim that Dorset is one of the country’s low pay economies dominated by the agriculture, hospitality and service industries.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, 66,000 workers in the county – over one in four – earns less than the living wage. Research by LWD has also found:

  • Average pay for full time workers in Dorset is at least 5% lower than the national average with pay as low as 19% lower in South Dorset.
  • Women continue to earn approximately 80% of the male rates even on the lower Dorset wages.
  • Of the 18 high pay industrial sectors in the economy, Dorset’s employment is under represented in these industries. Only 11% of the Dorset workforce is found in high pay sectors, below the national average.
  • Of the 13 low pay industrial sectors in the economy, Dorset’s employment is over represented in these industries, compared with both the national average and the south west region.

LWD say the benefits of a living wage are very clear:

For a family with two working parents, one part-time and two children under 16 renting their home at an average rent for the area, working 40 hours a week; the Living Wage would increase their total net household income by £550 per annum, and at the same time save local tax payers £3,370 in Tax Credits and Housing Benefits.

Neil Duncan-Jordan, spokesperson for the LWD campaign said: “Low pay is associated with poor job security and treatment, fuel poverty, expensive housing costs, lower educational attainment, reduced mental health, suppressed economic demand and debilitates the human spirit. These are all costs that society has to bear when things break-down. But the Living Wage offers a win-win for employees, employers and tax payers. Employees get a higher income and see their living standards rise, employers get a workforce with improved morale, less absenteeism and increased productivity and the tax payer saves huge amounts of money because they are no longer subsidising low wage employers by having to top up people’s earnings with benefits and credits. This is an idea supported by all the main political parties, major employers like Barclays, as well as the Church of England.”

The campaign is being launched with three high-profile meetings across the county:

Bridport 28 May – 7pm, Town Hall, Speakers include Anne-Marie Vincent, South West Dorset Multicultural Network and Claire Moody, Unite the Union

Dorchester 31 May – 7pm, Corn Exchange, Speakers include Cllr Alistair Chisholm, Kaye Kerridge, First Dorset Credit Union Ltd and Tim Nichols, Dorchester TUC

Bournemouth 5 June – 6.30pm, Barnes Lecture Theatre, Bournemouth University Talbot Campus, Speakers include Dr Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne, Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party and Paul Nowak, Assistant General Secretary TUC