NICOLA Sturgeon is "in the process" of becoming an accredited living wage employer, after it emerged that she had not personally signed up to a flagship scheme she has promoted relentlessly since becoming First Minister.


Ministers were accused of undermining a key SNP economic policy after they failed to register as living wage employers despite encouraging others to do so. MSPs, who spent a combined £9 million a year on staffing costs for posts including researchers and constituency staff, were asked to sign up a year ago to the programme, backed by the Poverty Alliance.

Ms Sturgeon has just launched a fresh drive to encourage employers to sign up to the Scottish Living Wage Campaign, saying it was part of a "distinctive Scottish approach to growth."

Yet only seven MSPs, all backbenchers, have become accredited living wage employers meaning that they are formally recognised as paying a least £7.85 per hour. They include three SNP MSPs, two Labour members and two LibDems.

While it is believed that the vast majority, if not all MSPs pay the living wage, Neil Findlay, one of the Labour politicians to sign up, accused the First Minister and her cabinet of "hardly leading by example on this vital matter" by not registering for official accreditation.

Following the criticism, the Scottish Government issued a statement in which it revealed that ministers, including Ms Sturgeon and Fair Work secretary Roseanna Cunningham, would now become official living wage employers.

A spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government recognises the real difference the living wage can make to people in Scotland and we are working with the Poverty Alliance to promote the benefits of paying the living wage. We firmly believe that all employees should receive a fair level of pay.

"Scottish Ministers, including the First Minister and Fair Work Secretary, already pay the living wage to their constituency office staff, and are taking steps towards seeking accreditation as living wage employers. That will set the best possible example to other employers ahead of a living wage summit with key business leaders next month."

It came as a new report backed up the Scottish Government's claim that increased productivity would outweigh the cost of paying the living wage.

The document, Wider Payment of the Living Wage in Scotland, looks at the benefits and concerns surrounding implementing minimum pay of £7.85 per hour.

It found that employee benefits can include an enhanced standard of living, better health and wellbeing and improved morale. Organisations can benefit from an enhanced reputation, the ability to recruit higher-calibre staff, a better working environment and greater staff engagement, the report claimed.

Key concerns about the living wage include the potential impact on an organisation's ability to remain competitive, the potential negative impact on their profit and the potential impact on wage costs by creating an inflationary impact on wages across the organisation.