Thousands of employees across Linen Quarter could benefit from a wage increase as Linen Quarter Business Improvement District (LQ BID) encourages members to become Living Wage accredited ahead of Living Wage Week 2023, taking place November 6 to 12. As an incentive to offer the Real Living Wage, the BID has pledged to fund first year accreditation fees for businesses with up to 500 employees.
Northern Ireland’s minimum wage currently stands at £10.42, with the Real Living Wage set at £12.00 allowing for a more accurate reflection of the cost of living. Recent research conducted by Survation for the Living Wage Foundation reveals that despite inflation easing, many individuals continue to endure hardship due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
The incentive could result in a wage uplift for thousands of employees across the Linen Quarter and serves to bring Northern Ireland up to speed with the rest of the United Kingdom. Currently Northern Ireland is lagging with just 82 businesses signed up compared to 13,895 in the UK.
LQ BID is one of the first organisations in the district to be accredited by the Real Living Wage Foundation and it underscores values of fairness, inclusivity, and social responsibility according to Managing Director, Chris McCracken.
Chris explained: “The Real Living Wage Accreditation is testament to our dedication toward creating a more equitable workplace. It’s a pro-people initiative putting more money directly into people’s pockets and aims to addresses the critical importance of supporting local businesses and ensuring people are paid an equal wage that meets their everyday needs.
“This initiative however goes beyond financial means and reaffirms our support to members, aiding recruitment, staff retention and reputational support as the Real Living Accreditation helps to foster a culture of workplace wellbeing and inclusivity. As well as supporting our wider district ambitions to make the Linen Quarter a great place to live, work and enjoy.”
According to the Real Living Wage Foundation currently one in eight employees living in Great Britain and Northern Ireland receive less than the living wage, leaving an estimated 14.3 million people living in poverty. The Real Living Wage is the only UK wage rate based on the cost of living and considers factors such as housing costs, food prices, and utility expenses.
Living Wage campaigner Mary McManus has been co-ordinating the anti-poverty Living Wage for East Belfast Campaign since August 2021. In that time, she has seen the Living Wage movement in NI take off resulting in a wage uplift for around 400 people.
Mary said: “The Living Wage is an income that targets in-work poverty by allowing workers to live decently and decrease the risk of households falling into financial difficulty. Increasingly, businesses here are seeing that paying the real living wage is the right thing to do. Not only does it enhance employee’s well-being but it’s a benefit to their business in terms of recruitment prospects, staff motivation and can even increase productivity as well as having a wider societal benefit by encouraging other businesses to sign up.”
As part of Living Wage Week taking place November 6 to 12, LQ BID will host a webinar on Friday 10 in partnership with the Real Living Wage Foundation to share more information on the initiative and how LQ BID can support businesses to become accredited.