By Daniel Hunter
This week is Living Wage Week, where a range of activities and events will take place throughout the UK to highlight the need for a living wage and celebrate living wage employers.
As part of its contribution, the Northern TUC is holding the Northern Living Wage Summit on Thursday 7 November at the Town Hall, South Shields. Keynote speakers include Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves and TUC General Secretary, Frances O'Grady.
Based on figures from a Resolution Foundation styudy publcished earlier this year there are approximately 213,000 workers in the northern region who are paid less than the living wage of £7.45, which represents 22 per cent of the workforce. With the rising cost of living and ongoing cuts to welfare, an increasing number of households are being forced to rely on the minimum wage to make ends meet, or are turning to debt. This event is aimed at enabling the North East to take a leadership role in tackling poverty pay.
Later in the week the TUC will publish research looking at the savings to be made across the north east - in terms of taxes raised and benefits and tax credits that would no longer have to be paid - if more people in the region were paid the living wage.
A growing number of employers in the region are showing real leadership in supporting - and more importantly adopting the living wage, including Newcastle City Council, Children North East, Arriva and Aquila Way.
The Northern TUC Wage Summit will bring together a broad spectrum of perspectives from all sectors, representing employers, individuals and communities, along with those working in economic development, financial inclusion and child poverty, to explore and drive forward this important area of work.
Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary said: "More employers committing to pay a living wage - both in the North East and across the UK - would be a good start and would see thousands of low-paid families with more cash in their pockets.
"This much-needed wage boost would not only cushion people against recent hikes in energy and food prices but would also benefit local businesses as families begin to have the confidence to go out and start spending again on local high streets.
"Britain desperately needs a pay rise if the economy is to begin to grow at a faster rate and if ordinary working people are to share in the country's hesitant recovery."
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said: "The country is facing a prolonged and severe cost of living crisis of which poverty pay is a major contributor. A Living Wage can transform the lives of families. I am a keen supporter of the Living Wage as it benefits the taxpayer, the worker and the employer. I know that there is huge interest in the Living Wage across the north of England and it's always good to talk with public, private and voluntary sector representatives as to how best we can make work pay."
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