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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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How social enterprises can prosper through the living wage

This opinion piece is over 8 years old

David Faith, living wage accreditation officer, takes a look at social enterprises and the living wage.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate of income (currently set at £7.85 for the UK, outside of London) which is defined as the amount of money needed to enjoy a basic, but socially acceptable standard of living.

The amount is calculated through independent research using the “minimum income standard” for the UK.

Decisions about what to include in this standard are set by the public; so it really is a social consensus about what people need to make ends meet.

Why do we need a living wage? Well, for the first time, the majority of people in poverty in Scotland are living in households where at least one person is working.

The lowest paid have suffered from a double squeeze of stagnating pay and rising costs of living. Living wage employees have told us that receiving the living wage allows them to access the goods and services that most people would consider necessary to participate in society.

However, as well as the many social benefits, there is also a business case for the living wage.

David Faith, Poverty Alliance

We hope that social enterprises in Scotland will see the living wage employer movement as a natural ally

David Faith, Poverty Alliance

Independent research has shown that the living wage improves morale, productivity and the ability to recruit fresh talent whilst at the same time reducing absenteeism and staff turnover.

The living wage is, therefore, one way that the interests of social justice can be aligned with the interests of commerce. Social enterprises are another (brilliant) example of the way people can operate a successful businesses whilst also contributing to society.

As such, we hope that social enterprises in Scotland will see the living wage employer movement as a natural ally. Indeed, there are a growing number of social enterprises in Scotland who have already become accredited as living wage employers.

These organisations represent a varied range of sectors including food and drink, hospitality, advisory services and security. In fact there are only really two things they all have in common; their commitment to the living wage and their commitment to the community.

Accreditation works as a formal recognition scheme. Accredited employers are listed on our website and they also have the right to use the Living Wage Employer mark.

They can use the mark wherever they like - marketing, social media, website, recruitment advertising, stationary, email footers etc. By becoming accredited, employers also often receive positive press coverage.

Accreditation signals to the world that an employer is part of the living wage movement and that's also vital to the aims of the accreditation initiative.

We would be delighted if more social enterprises in Scotland became accredited as living wage employers alongside the diverse range of other social enterprises who have already become accredited.

I would like to ask all social enterprises in Scotland to consider whether accreditation could be right for them.

Further details on the accreditation process are available here, or for more information on becoming accredited please feel free to contact me on the details below.

However, even if accreditation isn’t right for your social enterprise at the moment, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get in touch as I’m also keen to hear about any particular barriers, or unique problems, that social enterprises face when it comes to the living wage.

I’d also like to hear your ideas and suggestions about further steps that we at the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative could take to engage with the social enterprise movement in Scotland.

You can reach me on 0141 353 0440 or by emailing [email protected]

David Faith is living wage accreditation officer at the Poverty Alliance.

TFN is celebrating social enterprises all summer: check out the hashtag #SocEntSummer on Twitter



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