It’s Living Wage Week, an annual celebration and call to arms for the Living Wage campaign. It also marks the announcement of the new 2018/19 Living Wage rate – £9 across the UK and £10.55 in London. SSE is proud to sponsor Living Wage Scotland’s activities during Living Wage Week.
On 27 September this year, we marked SSE’s fifth anniversary of becoming a Living Wage employer. Back in 2013 we were the UK’s 322nd employer to achieve the Living Wage Foundation’s badge of honour – but just the 13th in Scotland.
There is a particular Scottish angle to the progress the Living Wage has made over that time. With SSE being headquartered in Scotland – and making a significant impact on the Scottish economy – it’s fair to say we were disappointed in 2013 that, proportionately, so few Scottish employers had taken the leap to become Living Wage accredited. That was why we responded to a joint suggestion from the Living Wage Foundation and the Poverty Alliance in Scotland to help them establish and lead a Business Leadership Group, designed to create an employer movement in Scotland in favour of the Living Wage.
The combination of important Scottish Government funding, the establishment of an accreditation team within the Poverty Alliance, and a growing movement of Living Wage employers, meant that things started to change.
SSE has worked alongside some brilliant Scottish businesses and employers, including Standard Life Aberdeen, Utopia Computers, Glasgow Caledonian University, KPMG and others. And what we have in common is a deeply held view that all of the people who work for SSE – directly or on our sites in our supply chains – deserve to earn at least a real Living Wage.
So from Scotland representing 4% of UK Living Wage employers, as it did five years ago, there’s now more than 1,280 accredited Scottish companies and organisations – which represents close to 30% of the UK total. Around 33,000 people in Scotland have had a pay rise as a result, with £60m of additional wages going into the pockets of workers.
Living Wage Week is an opportunity to celebrate the scale of this success and the real difference the campaign has made to so many people and families across the country. But it’s also a time to reflect and look to the future too. With just 14 other large private sector employers accredited in Scotland, there’s a lot of work to do to continue to keep up the momentum of progress. The Living Wage is core to what SSE stands for as a responsible business, and we will continue to encourage other major employers to share those values too.
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