Cllr Jacqui Dyer MBE and Cllr Ed Davie, Lambeth Cabinet Members for Adult Social Care and Health blog on Lambeth’s success on the London Living Wage and our work with the NHS to make sure even more people are paid a fair wage

Lambeth Labour councillors are working to give everyone in the borough a better chance of fulfilling their potential and enjoying better health.

Building on the council’s long-standing record as a London Living Wage (LLW) employer we are encouraging and supporting our local NHS partners to do the same.

Since 2012 Lambeth Council has been a LLW employer, which means that all of our workers and 99% those we contract are paid a fair day’s wage.

The council also has a 10 to one pay ratio which means that even the most senior official earns no more than 10 times the most modestly paid. We know that not only is lifting people out of poverty important but that we also need to reduce the gap between the most and least well off.

Research shows that health of everybody in a society is worse when the the gap between the richest and poorest is widest. Very unequal countries, like the UK and Portugal, have higher rates of ill health than say Sweden or Japan where the gap is narrower.

Unfortunately the gap in London and Lambeth is wide and as a result health is relatively poor.

London is a wealthy city but that wealth is not shared by all. The Child Poverty Action Group says that while the richest 10% of London’s households own 50% of the capital’s wealth, the poorest 50% of Londoners own just 5% of the city’s wealth.

London’s children are more likely to grow up in poverty than kids elsewhere in the UK – indeed, 37% of London’s children (that’s 700,000) live in poverty after housing costs are taken into account. Lambeth’s child poverty rate is slightly lower than the London average that but one in three of children in our borough live in poverty.

There is often an assumption that work is a guaranteed route out of poverty but, because of low pay, high costs of childcare and insecure work, two thirds of children living in poverty live in a household where at least one parent works.

That’s why it is so important to improve pay as well as support more people into decent jobs.

The NHS is Lambeth’s biggest employer employing thousands of health professionals, porters, cleaners, administrators, gardeners and many others.

As Cabinet leads for health we have started a conversation with our NHS providers about supporting them to become LLW employers. So far we have had really positive responses and many are keen to learn from Lambeth Council’s experience of negotiating contracts to ensure LLW pay rates even when budgets are tight.

Both South London and the Maudsley and Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Trusts have agreed to work with the council to get LLW accredited.

We will be arranging a workshop with the Living Wage Foundation and our NHS partners to take their positive intentions forward.

If we are successful hundreds if not thousands more Lambeth residents will be better off and we can use the example of the borough’s biggest employers paying the LLW to encourage others to sign up and end poverty pay for everyone in Lambeth.

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