Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, explains why Islington Council is fighting for a real Living Wage for charity sector workers.
Everyone deserves to earn enough to live on, not just survive on. That is why Islington Council is once again championing Living Wage Week (5-11 November).
A report published by the Living Wage Foundation this week shows that the charity sector is particularly affected by low pay. Over a quarter of charity workers earn less than the Living Wage despite the vital work they do. This disproportionately affects women, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and part-time workers, and risks forcing them out of the sector altogether.
Almost three quarters of those charity workers earning below the real Living Wage are women and just over half are aged between 20 and 24. Part-time workers (42.7 per cent) and people from ethnic minority backgrounds (62 per cent) are also earning less than the Living Wage in the charity sector.
It is also important that we support those charities who do outstanding work in our community to pay their workers the real Living Wage. Currently, nearly three quarters of those charities not paying the Living Wage are either small or micro charities with less than 50 employees.
Last year, Islington Council became the first Living Wage Friendly Funder. We require all the charities and voluntary sector organisations that receive funding through our £2.7 million core grants programme to pay at least the London Living Wage. This also applies to organisations that are commissioned to deliver services, including £50 million of contracts with voluntary and community sector organisations.
We are now urging other local grant-giving organisations in Islington to become Living Wage Friendly Funders and make their grants conditional on their grantees paying the Living Wage as well.
I have seen first-hand the effort the voluntary and charitable sectors put into helping others and fostering relationships within the community. Our borough would not be the same without them.
Charity sector workers do incredible work every day and it is only right that they receive the real Living Wage. Charities who pay the real Living Wage will be able to continue to recruit and retain excellent employees, which is essential if we are to continue working together to create a fairer borough for all.
Pictured – Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, at the launch of the Living Wage Foundation’s ‘Low Pay in the Charity Sector’ report