Despite the steps taken by the Methodist, Baptist, Church of Scotland and URC churches neither of the two largest denominations - the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England – has taken serious steps towards respecting their low-paid workers with a Living Wage, campaigners say.
Niall Cooper, CAP National Coordinator said: “It is an important for Christians to take the initiative on social justice issues and lead by example. All church workers – administrators, cleaners, caretakers – should be paid the Living Wage of at least £7.85 in London, £7.15 in Scotland and £7.60 everywhere else. We must stand with people and families who are working hard but are still in poverty. For this reason, we are today calling on all Anglican and Roman Catholic Diocese to follow the example of the non-conformist denominations and sign up to pay their employees a Living Wage.“
On 1 October the National Minimum Wage rose from £5.80 to £5.93 for those workers over the age of 21. This ‘pay rise’ is insufficient, says the charity. For those hard working families struggling to make ends meet the 13 pence increase falls a long way short of a Living Wage. Only a Living Wage of at least £7.60 (or £7.85 in London and £7.15 in Scotland) is acceptable to help overcome the problem of ‘in-work poverty’, campaigners say.
Church Action on Poverty is calling upon all employers to pay a Living Wage, but asking churches to take a lead and set an example. It says that it is the churches' moral responsibility to take a lead by paying all their employees a Living Wage, not the minimum wage.
In a statement they quoted Proverbs 14:31; "Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honour God."
The initiative is supported by Simon Barrow, co-director of the think-tank Ekklesia, who has also worked at diocesan and national level for the Church of England and is a former Assistant General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
Barrow commented: "Christian principles demand that wages should be just. Church Action on Poverty's important initiative invites all in our community, not least leaders in the majority Anglican and Catholic traditions, to get behind the campaign in an engaged way, not just with words of encouragement to others. Politicians and the government need to understand that a Living Wage is not an optional extra - without it, saying 'we're all in this together' in an economic crisis is meaningless."
The call from the charity comes just three days after the Church of England spoke out against Government cuts which would mean churches may not be able to reclaim VAT on certain repairs to their buildings.