The Archbishop of York, who chaired the Living Wage Commission, has defended parish churches paying below the minimum hourly rate.
Speaking during a visit to the North-East, Dr John Sentamu said churches that could afford to pay the Living Wage, currently £7.85 an hour outside London, should do so, but rejected suggestions it should be made mandatory.
The Church of England was criticised recently for advertising jobs at sub-Living Wage levels, a number of bishops having just backed the campaign. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the revelation was “embarrassing”.
Speaking in Durham yesterday , Dr Sentamu said:
“Where people are capable of paying the Living Wage, they should do it.
“In my diocese, we do. In my office, we do. Many other church groups do. I believe the FT 100 index ought to be.
“But there are some small businesses where if that became mandatory, they may go under.”
Whenit was suggested the Anglican Church was neither small nor new, the Archbishop said:
“Every Parochial Church Council is a charity in its own right. Every cathedral is a charity in its own right. People talk about the church as if it’s one huge organisation. No, every church has its own governance.
“If you can’t, tell your employees why you’re delaying and when you hope to arrive at a Living Wage.”
Dr Sentamu was speaking after delivering the annual Borderlands Lecture at Durham University.
He told a 150-strong audience at St John’s College that more employers should pay the Living Wage, to support the working poor not “well paid people like me”.
In a wide ranging 45-minute address, he railed against resource, economic, political, social and community injustice, saying society was at a moral, economic and spiritual crossroads and in need of moral, economic and social transformation.
Dr Sentamu also spoke of the “barbarity” of Islamic State, saying they were “using God as a weapon of mass destruction”.
> Well, that’s an accusation that could never be levelled against Christianity….
We all bear some collective responsibility for crime, he said, and instead of asking what law has been broken, who broke it and what they deserve, the justice system should ask: who has been hurt, what are their needs and who is obliged to meet their needs.
> Perhaps the Archbish might like to bend the ear of a certain Iain Duncan Smith on that point…
Source – Northern Echo, 07 Mar 2014
Almost a quarter of workers in the North East aren’t paid enough to live on, a new study reveals.
The report by the Living Wage Commission says that the employment market is “polarising” with high paid and low paid jobs both increasing – while the number of middle income jobs shrinks.
But workers on lower salaries have suffered, seeing their wages fall in real terms since 2005, the report says, while the cost of necessities such as food and fuel have shot up much faster than the official rate of inflation, leaving many working people struggling to make ends meet.
The grim warning was presented by the Living Wage Commission, an independent body chaired by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, and backed by the TUC, chambers of commerce and voluntary groups.
It is campaigning for every worker to be paid the “living wage”, a sum calculated to be the minimum needed to ensure a basic but acceptable standard of living. The 2014 rate is £7.65, or £8.80 in London.
In a new report called Working for Poverty, the Commission said there were 221,000 workers in the North East earning less than the living wage, or 23% of those in work.
This is the same proportion as in the North West and West Midlands, while the figure for Yorkshire and Humber is slightly higher at 24%.
But by contrast, just 18% of South East workers earn below the living wage, and the figure in London is 17% even though the living wage is higher.
Newcastle City Council was the first local authority in the country to introduce a living wage, ensuring no staff were paid below the sum, and others, such as Northumberland, have followed suit. Labour leader Ed Miliband backs the living wage while leading Conservative supporters of the policy include Hexham MP Guy Opperman.
But Dr Sentamu said more employers should adopt the policy, and he argued that paying higher wages would save the Treasury money because it would cut the benefits bill.
He said: “For the first time, the majority of people in poverty are actually in paid employment. The nature of poverty in Britain is changing. The idea of ‘making work pay’ increasingly sounds like an empty slogan to the millions of people who are hard-pressed and working hard, often in two or three jobs, and struggling to make a living.
“Meanwhile, the whole of the UK picks up the bill in tax credits, in-work benefits and decreased demand in the economy.”
Dr Sentamu added: “We know that not every employer could afford to implement a living wage right now. Yet we also know there are definitely employers that are able to pay a living wage but choose not to.”
The jobs where you are most likely to be paid below the living wage are barman or waiter. According to the report, 85% of people in these roles are underpaid.
Other jobs with a high proportion of workers below the living wage include catering assistant, vehicle cleaner, dry cleaning assistant, shop assistant, cleaner, hairdresser and florist.
Nationwide, 27% of female employees nationwide are paid below the living wage, compared to 16 per cent of men.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Low pay is blighting the prospects of millions of workers, and we need urgent action to tackle the low-pay problem.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 11 Feb 2014