Twenty years of the Living Wage celebrated with new three-year strategy to tackle in-work poverty

18 November 2021

A new strategy to tackle in-work poverty has been announced by Brent Council as the borough celebrates 20 years of the Living Wage. 

The plan was announced at a special event yesterday (17 Nov) that was arranged during this year’s Living Wage Week to discuss the stark reality of life on low pay and insecure work. 

Community leaders and representatives from local businesses and charities gathered at Newman Catholic College in Harlesden to hear about the importance of providing good jobs for local people. Speakers included representatives from the Living Wage Foundation, Brent Citizens, Brent Council and students from the school.  

Cllr Thomas Stephens, Lead Member for Education, Employment and Skills announced that the council is developing a three-year strategy to tackle in-work poverty. This follows a report into the drivers of poverty in Brent, which highlighted the issue of low paid and insecure work in the borough.  

The plan will be focused on supporting employers across the borough to take up the Mayor's Good Work Standard, particularly the London Living Wage. Organisations that can meet the Good Work Standard criteria will be able to apply for accreditation and recognition as leading employers from the Mayor of London.  

The new three-year strategy will launch in Spring 2022. Work is now underway to understand how the council can support employers to deliver well-paid work. Local employers interested in taking part in this research can email: delphina@nascentrae.co.uk. 

Cllr Thomas Stephens, Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills at Brent Council said:   

“Brent’s Poverty Commission highlighted the impact of poverty on our communities. Work can provide a vital route out of poverty, but only if the wage reflects the cost of living and keeps up with rising prices.   

“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of our hard working and dedicated key workers, but far too often they work in undervalued, low-paid and insecure jobs with over 5.5 million people across the country still earning less than the Living Wage.  

“Brent has one of the lowest average household incomes in the capital, with earnings 16% below the London average. We are committed to tackling in-work poverty across the borough and will be working closely with local partners and businesses throughout the next three years to help them adopt Good Work Standards and implement the real Living Wage.”   

Cllr Margaret McLennan, Deputy Leader of Brent Council said:   

“COVID-19 has affected us all, but the poorest have been hit hardest. Two thirds of those already earning below the Living Wage saw their pay fall last year and more than a quarter were forced to regularly skip meals.   

“This is devastating and deplorable. Nobody should have to pick between paying the bills or putting food on the table.    

“As a big local employer, we’re leading by example and are creating a three-year strategy to educate and encourage more local businesses to follow suit and provide the pay workers deserve – the real Living Wage.” 

Notes to Editors   

The Living Wage campaign is an independent movement of businesses, organisations and people who believe a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. It provides an ethical benchmark for responsible pay and employers choose to pay the real Living Wage on a voluntary basis.   

Brent Council has been a London Living Wage employer since 2013 and was the first council in the UK to introduce a formal business rates discount for Living Wage accredited employers. All accredited Brent employers are listed on the council website.   

Brent’s Independent Poverty Commission was published in August 2020, and recommended that Brent Council do more to tackle low-paid and insecure work by championing the Mayor’s Good Work Standards and the London Living Wage. View the report. 

 Brent councillors gathered with representatives from the Living Wage Foundation, Brent Citizens and students from Newman Catholic College in Harlesden

Cllr Thomas Stephens speaking at the event

Audience at 20 Years of the Living Wage event