Manchester-Living-WageRecently, Ed Miliband has been focusing on the crisis in living standards. Inflation, stagnating salaries and soaring energy prices have squeezed family bank accounts until the pips squeak.

One area we are hoping to tackle the crisis is through aiming to end working poverty. It is just not right that people can be in work but not maintain a decent standard of living, and everybody can see it. But only Ed Miliband’s Labour Party has any concrete plans to end the scandal.

The Living Wage, a concept introduced by Labour, is more than just a number. It’s also about family life and the dignity of work. By paying workers the Living Wage, you’ll know that you’re rewarding them fairly for the hard work they do.

The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK; hourly wage rate, set independently and updated annually. It describes the minimum hourly wage necessary for an individual to meet their own or their family’s basic day-to-day needs including housing, food and clothing.

A Living Wage can be a lifeline for families in Stockport struggling with the cost of living crisis. The number of people paid less than the Living Wage has risen from 3.4 million to 4.8 million over the past three years. For too many families, work is not paying enough to afford the ever increasing cost of essentials.  Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis, but it’s enough to make sure their workers and their families can live free from poverty.

Labour councils across the country are supporting the Living Wage Campaign. In the face of deep cuts, it is difficult for Local Authorities to introduce the Living Wage. It’s right that Labour councils find their own ways to face the particular challenges they face. But across the country we are seeing increasing numbers of Labour-led councils paying a Living Wage – showing that even in tough times, Labour can deliver, prioritising fairness and building stronger communities and local economies. Indeed, Stockport Labour Group pushed through a motion on the Living Wage meaning that all Stockport Council employees are paid it, which resulted in the lowest paid Council workers seeing a pay rise of over £2,000.

Indeed, for the Labour Party, the Living Wage Campaign shows that even in Opposition at Westminster, we can help some of the poorest people in society. It emphasises the fact that we are a movement engaging with local communities, our public institutions and business. Labour brought in the minimum wage. It is now leading the fight for a Living Wage.

Community organisations, unions and individuals have been campaigning on the living wage for over a decade. The campaign has become a powerful force for change across the country. It is now recognised as a compelling cause which offers benefits to workers, employers and wider society.

I am proud to be an elected member of the Party that continues to fight working poverty. David Cameron gave millionaires a tax cut whilst doing next to nothing about the growing scandal of working poverty, and we will not let that be ignored.

Up and down the country businesses, universities, charities and other organisations are signing up to join the campaign. Will you join us?

This blog post first appeared as an article in the Stockport Express last week

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