A report by Citizens UK has revealed that just four government departments pay workers the London Living Wage (LLW).
HM Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister's office all pay the LLW of £8.55 per hour to cleaners, who have been campaigning since last year. But 10 other departments are paying under £8.55 — in two cases the hourly rate is as low as £6.19 per hour. Here's the list of those who don't pay the LLW:
Department of Energy and Climate Change (£6.19 per hour)
Department of Education (£7.90 per hour)
Cabinet Office (£7.15 per hour)
Deputy Prime Minister's Office (£7.15 per hour)
Home Office (£7.15 per hour)
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (£6.54 per hour)
Ministry of Justice (£6.50 per hour)
Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (£6.46 per hour)
Department of Health (£6.32 per hour)
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (£6.19 per hour)
London mayor Boris Johnson, a supporter of the LLW, has clashed with Downing Street on this very subject. Last year he dismissed a government study which questioned the legality of imposing a requirement on companies providing services to pay the living wage, finding an unlikely ally in Labour leader Ed Miliband in the process. Ironically, Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesperson used EU regulations on procurement in the argument against it:
"Special contract conditions, such as a requirement to pay a minimum wage, can only be imposed in public contracts if they relate to the performance of the contract. [it ] rendered contracting opportunities less attractive for companies in member states where the minimum wage is lower”
It's the first time we've heard any indication that competitive pricing could be a factor in selecting contractors to provide government services — the latest furore over G4S suggests contractor costs might not be THAT closely attended to. But we digress.
Not everyone thinks the London Living Wage is a good idea. Last month, the GLA Conservatives mooted a minimum wage holiday for small businesses and the Institute of Economic Affairs thinks it could destroy jobs and increase poverty. While some of the aforementioned government departments say they're open to increasing wages, the fact remains that without the LLW, many workers are reliant on benefits and simply can't afford to live in London. And those benefits are being cut at the same time as a 12% salary increase is being proposed for MPs.
Photo by Bryan Jones in the Londonist Flickr pool.