Fenland District Council needs to make the living wage the minimum wage
I read the report in the September 19 edition of the Wisbech Standard regarding the Fenland Health Inequalities Plan with some dismay.
It talks about a healthy living fund and healthy lifestyle choices but there’s no mention of tackling the root causes of health inequality.
The County Council needs to think beyond smoking cessation courses if it is to tackle the real causes of health inequality.
A combination of factors is stretching household budgets to breaking point: rising food prices, high housing costs, increasing energy bills, low wages, insecure work contracts, weak employee protection and draconian welfare sanctions.
In many cases, this is leading to insufficient money to afford food; 3.8 million children in the UK are living in extreme poverty.
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Buying cheap, unhealthy food is not a lifestyle choice when you are on a low income.
The Trades Union Council is a keen supporter of the living wage, presently estimated at £7.65 per hour (outside London), as a key initiative to help tackle this inequality.
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The minimum wage (over 21) is £6.31 (£6.50 from Oct 1).
Boris Johnson, Tory Mayor of London, agrees with us by actively promoting the living wage to London employers.
But it is only a start. We need real secure employment with a living wage as the minimum for those who can work and a social security system that provides the safety net when people need it, supports people into sustainable and reasonable work and provides for those unable to work.
We also need a local transport system which enables people to access and keep work and access local shops and facilities and we need to build genuinely affordable homes to both rent and buy.
The UK Faculty of Public Health backs the call for a living wage to tackle conditions associated with health inequality.
I call on the leaders of the County and Fenland District Councils to make a start locally by announcing that they will make the living wage the minimum wage for all staff in their local authorities.
This would create a lead for other employers in Fenland to follow suit.
Secretary of the Wisbech, March & District Trades Union Council