A scheme to make Dundee the UK’s first “living wage city” has been launched.
Representatives from major local employers, the city council, the Poverty Alliance and the Living Wage Foundation gathered at DC Thomson on Wednesday for the launch of Living Wage Places.
The initiative aims to reduce in-work poverty by encouraging employers to pay £9 an hour instead of the minimum wage, which is currently £7.83 for over-25s and just £4.20 for under 18s.
Lynn Anderson, Living Wage Places national co-ordinator, said: “We are really pleased with the attendance (at the launch).
“As well as living wage accredited businesses we have wider stakeholders who can take the message back to other cities and encourage businesses to pay the living wage.
“Part of the solution to poverty is to increase income and reduce living costs.”
A quarter of Dundee’s employees are currently paid at least £9, which is the rate that the Living Wage Foundation believes is needed for people to live in the UK.
More than 50 of the city’s employers, including DC Thomson, have already voluntarily committed to ensuring their staff receive this wage.
Dundee has one of the highest rates of deprivation in Scotland, including child poverty with more than 8000 children – 28% – living below the poverty line.
Speaking at the launch event, Dundee City Council leader John Alexander said: “Today is about Dundee positioning itself as an example of paying the living wage.
“This shows how pro-active we’ve been – not only the council, but other employers in the city.
“Around 25% of people in the city are recorded as being paid the living wage, and the real number is likely to be higher as not all employers who unofficially pay that rate are accredited yet.
“But the reality is that the city is facing some really stubborn problems with deprivation.
“The living wage isn’t the whole solution to poverty, but it’s the first step in addressing the problem.
Councillor Alexander added: “This isn’t about forcing businesses to do anything, it’s about working with them. The living wage not only benefits employees but also the employers.
“When people are paid a decent wage they are more likely to feel valued and stick at a job, reducing turnover.”