A proposal by Ann Link

  I have recently been inspired by the examples of York, Croydon and Brighton declaring themselves Living Wage cities and towns and I want to gauge support in TTL.

Is it a ‘campaign’ (with political charge & therefore possibly not for us?) or is it a ‘citizen response to transform society’ (in which case may be relevant to Transition initiatives – see below)

This is a current issue since Living Wage Week is November 2nd to 8thplease respond and give your views.

Background
The Living Wage campaign was started by Citizens UK initially in London. It has support from across the political spectrum. The Green Party has given a great deal of long-term support, but the cause now has much wider resonance. In York, the Church of England has been a prime mover. It increasingly makes sense to forward-looking businesses, councillors and community organisations

The Living Wage Foundation says the LW is:

An hourly rate set independently and updated annually. It is currently £7.65 outside London and £8.80 in the capital. The rate will increase in November.

The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis.

The Living Wage enjoys cross party support, with public backing from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Paying the Living Wage is good for business, good for the individual and good for society.

Nearer home, the Brighton Chamber of Commerce has thrown its weight behind the campaign and there are over 130 businesses signed up since the launch in 2012. These include Sussex Police, Brighton Social Care, East Sussex Credit Union, Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, at least two large firms of solicitors, Brighton and Hove Bus Company, Silverado Contemporary Jewellery, Sussex Community Healthcare Trust, and many more in addition to the council.

There can be a distinct economic advantage to companies as staff turnover and sickness have been found to be reduced. More information here…

Why LW is relevant to Transition

When we see society moving in a less sustainable way, we work in practical ways to counteract that by creating new structures, such as OVESCo. In the same way as we attempt to help Lewes provide its own energy, we can think of helping Lewes support itself as a thriving community. If most employers implemented the Living Wage, there would be less need for food banks, well-being would increase and so would the sense that the whole community is in Lewes together. This sounds very like resilience to me, and we would be helping to build it. It would enable more people in Lewes to do practical things to prepare for a low carbon future.  It is extremely difficult for people on low incomes to choose many of the alternatives that TTL promotes and helps establish.

There is great need in Lewes District – there are four food banks in Lewes Town alone. The Children’s Society recently estimated that 21% of families in the district have problem debt. The Living Wage would help to address this although it’s not the whole answer of course.

Although there are other possible issues that affect community well-being, such as the buses and transport generally, we don’t work on these because other active groups already do. The Living Wage is something missing until now from Lewes – supporting it could result in a wider range of people working with TTL for present and future well-being. Also, how can people get involved with Transition if they are financially insecure? Even a small decrease in financial insecurity could make a crucial difference.

The Transition REconomy project has the Living Wage implicit in its aims for the type of business it wants to grow. Most of the examples mention fairness and there has been discussion of the Living Wage as part of the vision of a Transition-inspired business. The project aims to “transform your local economy” – and encouraging existing businesses to be fairer is closely related to setting up new enterprises.

If we regard LW as too political an issue, there are people in the Transition Network who regard this anti-political stance as inconsistent. They say everything is political, including food and energy, which we regard as part of our building for the future. Jay Tompt says Transition is deeply political. For other discussions see here…

TTL support could help the new Lewes for a Living Wage group become a successful broad-based movement. We could begin by helping with contacts, supporters and likely businesses. Let’s contribute to making Lewes a Living Wage District.

What do you think? The Steering Group has had a discussion but not reached a consensus. Would you object if TTL gave public support? Please reply here…