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London’s Living Wage – Who Pays It?
Beth Torr

May 5, 2011
View the Original Article

Boris Johnson has increased London’s living wage to £8.30 per hour but who’s paying it?

Surprisingly (or perhaps not, depending on your level of cynicism), the majority of the London councils don’t, with only Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Ealing, Islington and Southwark subscribing to the scheme though as the spokesman for London Councils points out;

‘Complicating matters is the fact that local authorities have a duty to deliver best value through public sector contracts which can be difficult to reconcile with implementing the London living wage.’

The city’s higher education institutions can polish their halos too; University College London, the Royal College of Music, London Metropolitan University and the Institute of Education all pay the LLW.

The private sector haven’t done too shabbily either with law firms and investment banking belying their popular reputations as bastions of rampant capitalism – Allen & Overy, Freshfields, Eversheds, Slaughter & May, Linklaters, Bruckhaus Deringer, Norton Rose, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS signed up to the LLW initiative. Even London Underground pay their cleaners the LLW since last summer and the Olympics labour force will see it too.

Retailers, however, are on the living wage naughty step with only two of Oxford Street’s 300 shops paying their staff the LLW and some even paying below the national minimum wage of £5.93 for those over 21.

According to the GLA report, there are over 100 companies in London paying the living wage but as Save The Children stats revealed back in February, there’s still some way to go with regard to addressing the capital’s poverty problems. Thankfully, the mayor’s enthusiasm for encouraging more companies to take up the LLW remains undiminished;

‘I urge others to look seriously at the benefits and join this important crusade.’

But is it enough though? Ken Livingstone doesn’t think so and has made LLW part of his 2012 election campaign;

‘We have proved the London Living Wage does not just make economic sense but it is morally right. We cannot accept the huge divisions of wealth and opportunity in the capital and the damage that this causes to the life chances and quality of life for so many Londoners.’

The Living Wage campaign was launched in 2001 by London Citizens and introduced in the capital in 2005 by Ken Livingstone despite David Cameron’s claim to the contrary.