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News - 1 March 2012

Lively debate comes out in favour of Living Wage

The Chamber’s Big Debate on Tuesday had opposing teams considering the merits and feasibility of a Living Wage of £7.20/hour [as opposed to the minimum wage of £6.08/hour]. The result was overwhelming.

The motion was ‘This house believes a voluntary living wage of £7.20/hr would be good for business in Brighton and Hove’

The debate was chaired by Rob Shepherd from Press Dispensary and speaking in favour of the Living Wage were Chamber President Julia Chanteray and Ian Tew, Head of Workplace, Europe at KPMG. Speaking against were Ben Ferrer, general manager of My Hotel Brighton, and Adam Brian, director and co-founder of Due South restaurant.

Described by Prime Minister David Cameron as “an idea whose time has come” the living wage is a level of pay that is based on an amount needed to provide a family with the essentials of life, rather than a bare minimum. It varies across the UK but in Brighton & Hove it is estimated to be about £7.20/hour.

At the end of the evening, the debate came down firmly on the side of the living wage but it now needs a concrete plan to bring it into being. The hospitality and retail sectors are two that struggle with wage levels and they generally have a minimum or low wage culture in the UK.

The Executive Director of the Economic Partnership made the point that the exhortation to pay a living wage must be accompanied with assistance to increase profitability in these sectors so that they generate the profits to increase wage levels.

The local authority, which increased all staff wages to at least the living wage amount last year, has established a Living Wage Commission chaired by Julia Chanterey to investigate the issue.

Read related items on:
Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce
Chanteray, Julia

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