This week is Living Wage Week and the Living Wage Foundation announced that the UK Voluntary Living Wage is to rise to £8.75 per hour for those working outside of London.
The Voluntary Living Wage is independently calculated from research into what people in the UK need to get by. Unlike the Government’s re-branding of the National Minimum Wage to the National Living Wage – which is £7.50 per hour – it reflects the real cost of living taking into account th…ings like accommodation, travel and a reasonable diet.
The rise in the Voluntary Living Wage will mean a pay rise for thousands of workers in our city. It is great that more and more employers in our city have chosen to go beyond the Government’s legal minimum and pay a real Living Wage.
When work pays we all benefit – living standards rise, inequality reduces and productivity increases.
But too many people in Northfield are still not paid a salary that is enough to get by.
Northfield has historically been one of ‘Living Wage Blackspots’ when it comes to the amount of people earning below the living wage. Recent research by the Living Wage Foundation found that in Northfield almost 30% of workers, 9000 in total, still get paid less than last year’s Voluntary Living Wage of £8.45 per hour. In the West Midlands a quarter of workers still earn below this wage and across the country 5.5 million are still paid less than the real Living Wage.
It is a scandal that almost a third of working people in Northfield are not still being paid enough to provide properly for themselves and their families. These figures reinforce that in-work poverty is real and it means far too many working people in this area are struggling to make ends meet.
You can find out more about living wage week here – https://www.livingwage.org.uk/living-wage-week
Government cuts to public services are bad enough but it is even worse when investment is approved for projects, only to then be delayed and threatened through unnecessary bureaucratic wrangles.
That, however, is what is happening on the Bournville Village Trust College Green development on the site of the former Bournville College on Bristol Road South. A new Health and Wellbeing centre is planned for the site and investment to construct the centre has been approved in principle by NHS England.
Now, though, delays by NHS England in revising some if its own rules and procedures are delaying the investment needed for the new centre. The danger is that if those delays go on much longer they could even prevent the centre being built at all. It is a crazy situation. Nobody seems to be questioning the need for the new centre or that it aligns with the strategic priorities of NHS England. It seems to be an entirely procedural wrangle that is holding things up.
Today I urged Ministers to step in to clear whatever procedural blockages are holding things up and make sure Bournville Gardens Health and Wellbeing Centre is built as planned.
After weeks of missed collections across Birmingham, I am relieved that agreement has been reached to bring the bins dispute to an end and I thank the Council and Unions for doing so. Birmingham residents have understandably been left angry and frustrated by all of this, but they too will be relieved to have the clean streets that they expect and are entitled to.
The immediate focus must now be on the backlog of missed collections and clearing the mountains of rubbish that have been left behind on Birmingham’s streets and estates. My team and I will continue to work with local councillors and residents to report outstanding collections and piles of rubbish while the clean-up gets underway.
In this, my first Parliamentary Newsletter since the General Election, I want to say thank you to the people of Birmingham Northfield Constituency for re-electing me as your MP. To have been re- elected with a majority that was almost double that of the previous election is an even greater honour.
So in saying a personal thank you to all who voted for me, I also want to underline that I am the MP for everyone in the constituency, whoever you voted for at election time. My priority has always been to be a good local MP, with solid roots in the area. If there is any issue you would like to bring to my attention, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can find out how you can get in touch, here.
I hope you all have a wonderful and restful summer.
Richard Read more
Like so many other people who live in Birmingham, I and my family have been experiencing problems with missed bin collections, with overflowing wheelie bins left uncollected or picked up days late for a number of weeks now.
As an MP I have also been inundated with calls and e-mails from residents who have been going through the same thing. According to a report in the Birmingham Mail this week, the number of missed collections has soared by 5,000 a week since the start of the present industrial dispute between Birmingham City Council and unions representing bin crews.
The council has set up a web link on which people can report missed collections here: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/…/report_a_missed_bin_or_sack…
Every time a resident contacts my office with details of where collections have been missed, we also report this to the council and ask them to go out to pick up the rubbish as soon as possible.
None of this, of course, means the problem goes away and it is clear that a long term solution requires a resolution of the current dispute. Obviously, not being a party to the dispute, neither I nor any of my Birmingham Labour MP colleagues have it in our power to solve it directly. What I can tell you is that, between us, we are in touch with both the city council and the unions to emphasise the importance of bringing the dispute to an end as soon as possible.