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People, Skills & Talent

Invest in Our Future Workforce by Providing Real Living Wages

In a Living Wage Week event, Ian MacArthur, Director of The GM Good Employment Charter, said paying a real living wage is one of the necessary conditions to help tackle poverty and inequality.

“42% of children in Greater Manchester are living in poverty.”   

That was the opening line from Ian MacArthur, Director of The GM Good Employment Charter, speaking at a Living Wage Week event on 17 November.    

’Exploring the business case for the Real Living Wage’, organised by Pro Manchester, brought together business leaders and politicians to debate the impact on people and businesses who pay the real living wage and make the case for why should follow the lead of 11,679 companies in the UK who have already committed to paying the living wage.   

Ian MacArthur made the case in the context of investing in our future workforce. If employers invest in their workforce now, they are contributing to equipping the younger generation with the skills needed to get on in life and play an active role in the local economy. In short, paying a real living wage is one of the necessary conditions to help tackle poverty and inequality.    

Ian quoted an example from One+All, a Member of the Good Employment Charter. When reviewing the wages in their organisation, instead of doing it from the top down, they started with the lowest earners first, directly addressing the inequality in their organisation. By taking this approach and committing to a real living wage, One+All sent a signal not only to their workforce but to wider society that instead of focusing on their competitiveness, they were helping to make progress for the whole community to move forward.  

Shaun Hinds, CEO of Manchester Central, said in the seminar that the labour market has significantly changed in the post-Brexit and post-pandemic era. As such, businesses would be in a better position to adjust sooner rather than later, giving them the enhanced ability to attract and retain the necessary talents immediately and help them to break out from the packs in the current highly competitive talent market. This is especially true for some sectors, such as hospitality, which traditionally has long, unsociable working hours with relatively low pay.  

Gillian Drakeford, the Former CEO of IKEA in the UK & Ireland and currently one of the advisors for the Charter, said by providing real living wages, the employer automatically has a positive engagement with their workforce. When management pushes forward a transformation plan or revitalises a business, an engaged workforce is always the key to success. Gillian also shared her experience when she worked at IKEA. By committing to providing real living wages, the organisation has showcased their value, which helped to retain talent at the mid-level as they prefer to work in an organisation aligned with their value. 

Also speaking at the event Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, commented on how the the pandemic has highlighted the scale of the challenge when it comes to ensuring people earn a real living wage.   

Andy highlighted the importance of empowering consumers. As today’s consumers are much more sophisticated and will consider the social value behind their purchasing decisions, making those accredited employers in the relevant sectors more visible will give them real benefits to their business.    

Andy used re-regulating bus services in Greater Manchester as an example, in which the combined authority has taken a very explicit decision to link that process to the Charter. Andy said investing more social value into the public sector procurement process is the direction to go in the future, and he believes private sector procurement can also do more.  

The event occurred as the Chancellor confirmed a rise in the National Living Wage in his Autumn statement. From April 2023, it will be increased from £9.50 an hour for over-23s to £10.42 - which is still lower than £10.90 for the Real Living Wages outside of London. 

The event took place as research commissioned by the Living Wage Foundation and conducted by the Smith Institute revealed that if just a quarter of those earning below the real Living Wage saw their pay raised to that level, the increase in wages, productivity and spending would deliver £72m back into the Greater Manchester economy. 

While there are clear benefits for businesses in committing to the real living wage, a raise in wage will unavoidably affect running costs. The GC Business Growth Hub recognises the impact on business and the #HereForBusiness support package provides practical help, guidance, and expert advice on a range of topics to help businesses manage the increasing cost of doing business. 

For business faced with financial difficulties, please go to: 

Finance & Funding support service | GC Business Growth Hub 

For business need to upskill their workforce and find new talents, please go to: 

People, Skills & Talent support service | GC Business Growth Hub 

For business want to open new markets and explore export opportunities, please go to: 

New Markets & Exporting | GC Business Growth Hub 

To find out more and access help and support, get in touch now. 

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