Living Wage Week 2015


On Monday I was at the Birmingham launch of Living Wage Week 2015 where the new rate for the Living Wage outside of London was unveiled – rising from £7.85 per hour to £8.25 per hour.

When I say “Living Wage”, I mean the real one – a figure produced from independent research into what people in the UK need to get by. It’s not about luxuries. It reflects the real cost of living taking into account things like accommodation, travel, a reasonable diet and a few little extras like family birthday presents. It is not the same as the so-called “National Living Wage” which the Government announced in this year’s budget. That is a rebranded National Minimum Wage which will rise from £6.50 an hour to £7.20 an hour next April. It’s a welcome increase but it will be more than wiped out for thousands of local families by the cuts in tax credits which the Conservative Government are also introduced. What is more, younger workers are not covered by the rebranded National Minimum Wage. And it is categorically not a Living Wage.

Recent KPMG research has found 26% of workers in the West Midlands still get paid below even last year’s Living Wage rate of £7.85. In my own constituency of Northfield, the problem is particularly acute. Indeed it is the worst black spot in the country for low pay, with over 54% of employed adults being paid less than £7.85 an hour. For women living in the area it is even worse. 63% are paid below last year’s Living Wage rate. For women working part time, the figure rises to 77%.

All this is why there was a special focus at yesterday’s launch of the need to take action against low pay in Northfield, with a presentation from me, Rev Dave Tubby of Northfield Baptist Church and Rev Caz Hague from Northfield Methodist Church.

Birmingham City Council is one of the employers – setting an example by paying all its own employees a Living Wage and using its procurement powers to do the same. That is particularly important in the care sector which employs many local people and which is notorious for its low rates of pay. As Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, asked at yesterday’s launch ‘Why do we pay the least to those who look after those we love the most?’

The Citizens UK Birmingham alliance was instrumental in pulling yesterday’s event together with support from the City Council, and a range of forward-looking public, private and voluntary sector employers it was also supported by the Living Wage Foundation who have launched a new ‘Peoples Movement’ website to build support for extending the coverage of the Living Wage. See it at

It is great that the Birmingham Mail is throwing its weight behind the Living Wage campaign too. You can see some of the articles they have published in recent days here:


Recent Posts

Richard Burden

Avatar photo

I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Get in touch

You can reach me by email at or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.