By Kate Wallace Lockhart

THE real Living Wage was created to help ensure people earn a wage that allows them to meet everyday needs and live a decent life. A memorable milestone has now been reached in this campaign against low pay. Pure Spa & Beauty has become the 2,000th accredited Living Wage employer in Scotland. Its commitment will ensure more than 130 staff receive at least the real Living Wage of £9.50, which is significantly higher than the Government minimum for over-23s, which currently stands at £8.91 per hour.

Employers like Pure Spa recognise the vital importance of fair pay for their employees, and the contribution that makes to tackle the rising tide of poverty in Scotland. Accreditation has meant more than 45,600 workers have received a pay increase to the real Living Wage – delivering more than £240 million of extra wages into the pockets of low paid workers.

Passing the 2,000 mark is a sign of strength of the Living Wage movement in Scotland. This strength comes from the employers who want to see things done differently, who want to demonstrate that they value their workers and those who work regularly on their behalf. But it also comes from the real experiences of low-paid workers, from the activity of campaigners and trade unions, and from politicians who have joined together to campaign against in-work poverty.

Living Wage Scotland has been central to the development of this movement since it was formed in 2014. SSE was among the first 20 Living Wage employers in Scotland and has been enthusiastic supporters ever since. As the Chair of the Living Wage Scotland leadership group, I work with representatives from large corporates, small business, academics, third sector leaders and public sector institutions – all helping Living Wage Scotland achieve its aim of maximising the number of workers earning at least the real Living Wage. Business leadership on this issue has been an important part of ensuring the continued growth of the Living Wage movement in Scotland.

And now – with a 2,000 strong and growing network of Living Wage employers in Scotland – we become more ambitious. By working with our network we will find ways to further enhance work quality and tackle in-work poverty in Scotland. The Living Hours scheme is an example of this. Launched by the Living Wage Foundation in 2019, it recognises that secure contracts and hours are needed alongside a real Living Wage. Scotland’s businesses are once again demonstrating leadership on this: SSE joined Standard Life Abrdn and 1st Alliance Credit Union to be among the first Living Wage employers in the UK to also become Living Hours accredited. SSE will continue our approach of sharing our experience with others, to encourage more employers to join us in creating better quality jobs as part of sustainable business models.

Congratulations to Pure Spa & Beauty, and to all the other employers before them that have been part of the journey. To celebrate this achievement, as we recover from the major disruptions to our economy, is both significant and inspiring. We should take this as a strong signal of intent from businesses that we want fairness and respect to be the foundation of our future success

Kate Wallace Lockhart is Head of Social Impact at SSE