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London: Charity pays living wage after our report
London Evening Standard
Miranda Bryant

July 29, 2011
View the Original Article

An Anglican charity that has helped hundreds of people out of poverty has begun to pay its own staff the London living wage after being alerted by the Evening Standard.

Church Army employs about 200 people in Britain and runs projects across the capital to help alleviate poverty, including the Marylebone Project, which helps more than 200 homeless women a week.

However, until April, the start of the financial year, it did not pay its own London staff above the living wage, now £8.30 an hour.

Chief executive Mark Russell said a Standard article prompted him to find out how much they earned, and he worked with staffing agencies to put the matter right.

"We were paying what was then the going rate for housekeeping staff in the London area - around the £6 mark. You have to empower people to get out of poverty and I realised we weren't allowing our staff to do that," he said.

"I would encourage every employer in London to pay the living wage. I hope to put wages up even more in the future. When staff are contracted out it's difficult to know what they are paid. It's incumbent on leaders of organisations to ask their agencies what people in their companies are getting paid."

The charity also helps disadvantaged families in Kidbrooke, south London and parents-to-be in Hammersmith.

Campaigners today welcomed the news that the charity has joined the 155 organisations in the City and the public sector that have signed up to the living wage.

Neil Jameson, of Citizens UK and lead organiser at London Citizens, which launched the living wage campaign in 2001, said: "We are delighted Church Army is setting an example. Two hundred people will be lifted out of poverty wages - that's 200 families whose lives will be improved."

The organisation is now working to convince Tesco, the UK's biggest private sector employer, to adopt the living wage for its cleaners and is in talks with Marks & Spencer and John Lewis with the same aim.