Thousands could benefit as Sunderland becomes North East's first Living Wage city
Sunderland is the first city in the North East to be recognised for its commitment to paying the national Real Living Wage.
The real Living Wage is the only rate calculated according to what people actually need to make ends meet and provides a voluntary benchmark for employers.
The UK Living Wage is currently £10.90 per hour, significantly higher than the government minimum of £9.50.
Sunderland is the first city in the region to be recognised as a Making a Living Wage City by the Living Wage Foundation, which accredits businesses that pay the Living Wage to their directly employed and contracted staff.
An alliance of city businesses has been working on a plan to expand the Living Wage across Wearside over the next three years, with the number of workers qualifying potentially set to triple under plans announced by the City Council in partnership with the Living Wage Foundation and major city employers.
If successful, the plans would see 19,702 more workers in Sunderland receiving the Real Living Wage by 2025.
A total of 18 city employers have already voluntarily committed.
City council leader Coun Graeme Miller said: “This is all about supporting our residents by making sure that they are paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, which is all the more important given the current cost of living crisis.
"For me becoming an accredited Real Living Wage employer was simply the right thing to do. Work should pay, or at least pay enough for people to live on, but this isn't always the case as we see people juggling multiple jobs, having to resort to using foodbanks and struggling to pay their bills.
“As a partner on the Real Living Wage Action Group, we are committed to encouraging more city employers to sign up to becoming Real Living Wage employers. This is also in keeping with our City Plan and Community Wealth Strategy, investing in our residents and communities and supporting them to be financially resilient.”
Val Barron, chair of Living Wage Action Team at Tyne and Wear Citizens, said: “I witness the stress and anxiety that low pay causes in my regular work in foodbanks and know employers can make a difference through real Living Wage accreditation.
“We have been working to increase the number of accredited real Living Wage employers in the region and are so excited that Sunderland City Council is the first local authority in the North East to accredit.
"We’re delighted they’re going further and working in partnership with others, to make Sunderland a Living Wage City.
University of Sunderland secretary Andrea Walters added: “We are delighted to become an accredited Living Wage Foundation Employer. This has had a positive impact on almost 300 individuals.
"As one of Sunderland’s largest employers, we are committed to supporting the city-wide campaign to support local wealth creation by becoming a real living wage city.”
The Sunderland Living Wage action group comprises Living Wage accredited employers from across the public, private and third sectors as well as civil society representative and includes: Sunderland City Council, Gentoo ,Wearside Women in Need, Blue Ribbon Community Care (Tyne and Wear), Youth Almighty Project
International Community Organisation of Sunderland and Easington Lane Community Access Point.