St Joseph’s Catholic and Anglican High School has become the first school in Wrexham to pay a Living Wage of £7.45 an hour to the staff it employs, resulting in 12 members of staff getting a pay increase.
The Living Wage is the amount calculated as enough to afford the cost of living in the UK. The legal minimum wage is much lower at £6.19 an hour. Increasingly people are finding it impossible to get by on the minimum wage alone. Many working families are facing crisis, being forced to turn to food banks, loans, or hand-outs.
The majority of children in Wales who are living in poverty actually have parents who are in work, and the majority of the UK’s benefit bill goes to supporting people who work in low paid jobs. The impact of low pay reaches across all the community, causing stress, health problems and wider social issues, costing us all as a society.
Workers in Wrexham may be feeling the effects of low pay even more than other areas, with the average wage being £120 a week lower in Wrexham than the UK average.
TCC has been campaigning for a Living Wage for Wales for many years, and approached St. Joseph’s on the issue recently. Lead organiser for TCC, Kay Polley said “We are really thrilled with St. Joseph’s achievement. It means that all of their employees are treated with respect and dignity, and can now earn enough to provide for their families.”
Now that St. Joseph’s has led the way, TCC is hoping that more schools and local employers will sign up and start to pay the Living Wage. Whilst it might seem like a big extra cost, there are many benefits: staff take fewer sick days, work harder, and stay in the jobs for longer, so the employer may actually save money.
Kay added “Paying the Living Wage is also great for the employer’s reputation, attracting a higher calibre of staff to vacancies, as well as helping to eliminate poverty in our communities. It is really shocking that local people going out to work here in North Wales can still be living in poverty.”
Mrs Maria Rimmer, headteacher of St Joseph’s (shown in the photo) said “As a school we are delighted to be in a position to pay our employees the Living Wage. This move shows our commitment towards our staff and fully displays the ethos of our shared faith community.” The jobs benefitting from the pay increase are cleaners, administration assistants, and teaching assistants.