Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice

Britain Needs A Pay Rise – TUC Campaign

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is encouraging people to support the TUC as it urges ‘Britain needs a pay rise’.

This Saturday, 18 October, a march supporting the living wage takes place in London with other demonstrations also happening across the country.

Vera Baird said: “I’m supporting the TUC’s principal of the demonstration which is quite simple – that as growth returns to the UK economy, everyone should get a fairer share in this recovery.

“People are currently facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times and wages have fallen in real terms every year since 2010.

“I’m delighted that within my office and Northumbria Police we’ve already embraced many of the principles of this campaign.

“The TUC is campaigning for a commitment to the living wage and we can give a resounding tick to that, as every employee in Northumbria Police is now paid at least the living wage.”

Mrs Baird said the cleaning contract was recently brought back ‘in house’, allowing the cleaners’ salaries to be increased from the minimum wage to the living wage.

She said contracts issued by Northumbria Police or her office had a clause built in that the staff working on the scheme on our behalf must be paid the living wage.

“There are no ifs or buts, it’s a requirement we insist on to ensure those working within the supply chain of Northumbria Police at least get the living wage,” the Commissioner said.

“This increase shows how we value all our staff and it also helps the local economy as moving from the minimum wage to the living wage will give staff more disposable income.

“We all have a duty to support our employees and if a business can afford to pay a higher wage than the minimum wage, they should consider doing so.

“I’m not looking at this through rose tinted glasses and fully appreciate that some businesses would struggle to pay higher salaries, but many wouldn’t and it is those businesses which can make a difference to their employees that have a duty to do so.”

The minimum wage was introduced by Tony Blair through the National Minimum Wage Act in 1998 and has helped at least 1.5 million people.

Since October 2013, the Government has published the names of employers who did not pay the minimum wage and the TUC has called on the Government to publicly name and shame those companies more widely. Additionally there are calls for HMRC to have more resources to help them identify more companies who are not paying the minimum wage.

The Commissioner said: “This Saturday will send a clear message to the Government and employers about the differences implementing a living wage can have – while ensuring all meet the minimum wage.

“Here at Northumbria we are leading the way, as are many companies in the north east, and we now need to ensure that all businesses pay the legal requirement of the minimum wage and where possible increase the payment to the living wage and I hope others will join with their support for the living wage.

“If you haven’t already done so please pledge your support to the ‘Britain needs a pay rise’ march, a simple Tweet can show your support #18oct”