This week marks the annual celebration of the Living Wage movement which seeks to secure decent pay for low paid workers. Living Wage Week is an opportunity to promote understanding of the campaign for a real Living Wage and to encourage more employers to sign up.

The Living Wage as defined by the Living Wage Foundation is independently calculated to be the minimum hourly rate necessary to sustain workers and their families. It is currently set at £8.45 an hour, significantly higher than the misleadingly named National Living Wage announced last year by George Osbourne which now stands at just £7.20 an hour.

In 2014 Portsmouth City Council publicly committed to pay its workers the rate defined by the Living Wage Foundation. The Tories then took control of the administration in 2015 and effectively repealed that decision by choosing to freeze the hourly rate of the lowest paid council workers at £7.85 until the bogus national living wage caught up.

This means that around 174 of the lowest paid council employees are now earning up to £1,154 less than the rate defined by the Living Wage Foundation. This might be small change to council bosses but to hardworking families it could prove to be the difference between just getting by and being plunged into poverty.

The decision taken by Portsmouth Tories is in stark contrast to the strategy adopted where Labour is in power. In London the Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan announced earlier this week that the London Living Wage will increase to £9.75 an hour, the higher rate reflecting the greater costs of living in the capital.

Portsmouth Labour Party is committed to fighting for decent jobs, housing and public services for all and calls on the council to implement a proper Living Wage for all employees.

Cal Corkery