The Living Wage and Beyond

by merioconnell on 12 November, 2013


Meri in front of the Corwen Rd sheltered housing


All families are feeling the financial squeeze at the moment, but care workers, who visit our most elderly and  vulnerable residents, often don’t  even  take home the minimum wage! Their employers are able to reduce their pay further by tactics such as not paying for travel time between visits. Losing £1ph travelling when you only earn £6.19ph, really matters!

Reading Liberal Democrats believe that, on a local level, supporting the living wage (where you are paid enough to actually live) is an excellent start in reducing poverty amongst those who are in work.

I am pleased that Reading Borough Council already pay all their directly employed staff above the minimum wage, but  am increasingly concerned about those at the bottom of the pay pile who work on behalf of the council, but are employed by outside contractors.

In my youth I spent a summer working in a local Authority care home, the work was hard, but most of the staff I worked with went about their tasks with humour and tenderness. I would go to bed after work with sore arms and an aching back from all the manual jobs, but it was also enormously rewarding. No matter how busy they were the care workers always tried to find time for a chat with residents and you could see how valuable that was in the smiles they received. These people deserve decent pay and working conditions.

Reading Lib Dems would like the Council to commit to ensuring that all those who provide services on behalf of the council receive the living wage rather than just the minimum wage, and that their travelling time between house calls is paid as well.

On a national level, the Lib Dems want an end to tax poverty and to put more money back into working people’s pockets. Because of the Liberal Democrats, since April the  personal tax allowance has been £9,205. From 2014 it  will be raised again to £10,000, saving 25 million people across the UK  a total of £700 Income Tax. That’s money worth having in these difficult times!

But we want to go even further – the Lib Dems are committed to ensuring that no-one earning the minimum wage should pay tax on it. We want to raise the income tax threshold to £12,400 in the next parliament.

Everyone who works will benefit from this, but those on the lowest wage – like care workers, doing some of the most physically and emotionally demanding work possible with our most precious relatives and loved ones , will benefit the most.

It’s a small but important way for society to say ‘thanks’.

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