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Taking stock: Living Wage in Wales campaign must consolidate its success

5 November 2015

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New report offers insight into Living Wage in Wales

A new report from Cardiff Business School offers a progress check on the Living Wage in Wales campaign, highlighting the need to develop greater geographic and sector representation for continued success.

The report, prepared by Professor Edmund Heery, Dr Deborah Hann and Dr David Nash, was funded by the School and supported by Citizens Cymru-Wales, the Welsh arm of Citizens UK. It has been released to coincide with Living Wage Week (2 November – 6 November 2015).

The Living Wage campaign reached Wales in 2012 but the report highlights how it has already recorded significant success.

Currently there are more than 50 Welsh organisations, which directly employ in excess of 15,000 staff, have been accredited as Living Wage employers. This is 2.9% of the total number of accredited employers across the UK. Major Welsh institutions with accreditation include the Welsh Assembly, Cardiff University, Cardiff Bus and Caerphilly County Borough Council.

The report finds that the Living Wage campaign in Wales has:

·         gathered pace, with a quarter of Welsh Living Wage employers being accredited since March 2015;

·         reached most parts of Wales, with accredited employers in 17 different local authorities;

·         strong representation across all of the main sectors of the Welsh economy;

·         a large concentration of accredited employers in the private sector, traditionally the main repository of low-wage employment.

There is also room for further development and the report provides examples of activity in the rest of the UK which may help to propel the Living Wage in Wales campaign to greater success.

The report highlights that while there is representation for Living Wage employers in 17 local authorities, there is a high level of accredited employers concentrated in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. Equally, while major public sector organisations such as the Welsh Assembly have become accredited employers there is limited penetration generally within the Welsh public sector. There remains a dearth of Living Wage employers in low wage industries with no representation in the agriculture and hospitality sectors in Wales and very few in the retail and care sectors.

Wales follows an established UK pattern with pockets of concentration in urban and economic hubs and better representation in sectors with relatively few low-paid jobs. The report argues that lessons from outside of Wales should be considered and absorbed in to the Welsh campaign. Outside of Wales professional service organisations such as law firms, software houses, accounting, advertising and public relations agencies have a considerable number of Living Wage employers. This is one area ripe for development while ensuring a better geographic spread is also a key recommendation made by the report.

Discussing the report, Professor Edmund Heery, said: “The Living Wage in Wales campaign has, in a short amount of time, signed up major organisations and become a part of the political and social debate. This report, released in Living Wage Weeks, is a progress check on the campaign and I hope will become a benchmark against which we can compare later achievements.

“For now, we should celebrate the spread of Living Wage accredited employers across all parts of Wales and in multiple employment sectors. Going forwards the campaign should commit to diffusing the representation of Living Wage employers across Wales while increasing the commitment from the public sector. Capitalising on the current support within the private sector by developing the professional services representation, already successful outside of Wales, could also be significant.”