A new crusade to persuade companies to pay their employees the living wage has been launched in Alnwick.
And it already has its first supporter – Newcastle Building Society has signed up to the scheme, which urges employers to pay more than the minimum wage.
The campaign, Alnwick Alive, was started last week by local activist James Matthewson, working with the Living Wage Foundation to accredit employers and celebrate those who are already accredited with the national scheme.
Mr Matthewson said: “We have a real chance here to help our local economy prosper and give those working locally the wage they need to survive.
“I’d like to call on all those businesses currently paying the minimum wage to seriously consider the benefits of upping their staff’s wages to ensure they have enough to live in our community as well as work in it.
“We all benefit when more people have more money in their pockets.”
He set up Alnwick Alive after knowing first hand what it’s like to seek meaningful, stable and viable employment in the area.
He said: “After leaving Duchess’s Community High School aged 17, I struggled to find employment that paid well and was eventually lucky enough to be given the opportunity to serve an apprenticeship at a local business.
“However, many of my friends and peers continue to struggle in the low wage economy, with lots of local people battling to make ends meet and a majority of jobs being on zero hours contracts, seasonal employment and also paying a pittance.
“This campaign hopes to address some of these issues and at least let us take some pride in our community paying people a wage they can afford to live on.
“Why should they be expected to work for less!”
The Living Wage Foundation calculates the minimum amount people should be paid per hour according to the cost of living based on a basket of household goods and services. It has set the figure at £9 across the UK, apart from London, compared to the Government minimum wage of £7.38 for under 25s and £7.83 for over 25s. For more information, visit https://alnwickalive.wix site.com/livingwage