Campaigners want Living Wage town status for Alnwick

Campaigners are closing in on their ambition to make Alnwick a Living Wage town.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 16:42 pm
The Alnwick branch of Newcastle Building Society was the first company to sign up to Alnwick Alive, after being accredited by the Living Wage Foundation. Pictured are branch manager Greg Brown (right) and his team.

Seven local businesses and charities – and even a church and residential home – have achieved Living Wage accreditation and more are in the pipeline.

Local activist James Matthewson, who founded the Alnwick Alive campaign, is working with the Living Wage Foundation to accredit employers who pay staff a minimum of £9 per hour to over 18s.

This ‘real living wage’ is calculated according to the cost of living based on a basket of household goods and services and compares to the minimum wage of £7.70 per hour for over 21s and the national living wage of £8.21 per hour for over 25s.

Newcastle Building Society, Lloyds Bank, Barclays Bank, Citizens Advice Northumberland and the Alnwick branch of Oxfam all have accreditation – along with St Paul’s Catholic Church and Bailiffgate Residential Home.

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James, speaking at a meeting of Alnwick Town Council, said: “Our campaign isn’t just about encouraging people to pay the real living wage, it’s also about getting employers who already pay it accredited.”

A new aspect of the campaign is to recognise Living Wage places.

“Alnwick could become a Living Wage town if anchor organisations within the town also accredit,” said James. 

“Alnwick, for its population size, has made quite a lot of progress already with this if you look at the businesses signed up being quite big employers. 

“If we can get several other big employers on board, like the NHS Trust and town council, then there is a very strong possibility that Alnwick could become a Living Wage town and it would be ahead of the curve because there are only three other towns in the country that are looking to do this.”

He has written to businesses across the town to encourage them to sign up and is also hoping to get the Chamber of Trade on board.

He hopes Northumberland Estates, Alnwick Castle and The Alnwick Garden will eventually support the scheme too.

The town council, which already pays the real Living Wage, will discuss whether to seek accreditation at its next policy and finance committee meeting.