Jo McCarron is surveying hundreds of local businesses to find out about the barriers they face in paying people a wage that covers the cost of living. She also wants to hear from businesses who already pay the living wage of £7.65 per hour to hear about the benefits it brings to their business.
This comes after TUC figures identified Kingswood as the top black spot for low pay in the UK, with 48% of people being paid below the living wage.
Jo, Labour's Parliamentary Candidate for Kingswood, said that although it was a surprise to learn that Kingswood was the worst hit in the whole of the UK, it was in line with her own findings on the doorstep that people across the constituency are feeling the squeeze on their wages and household budgets.
"Over the last few months we've spoken to thousands of people across the constituency about the issues that matter to them. Over 80% say they are seriously concerned about the rising cost of living. It isn’t just those who can’t find work who are struggling, but nor is it just those on low pay – virtually everyone is feeling the growing pressure as month after month prices continue to rise faster than wages. It’s crucial that we find ways to ease that pressure, and part of that has to be improving people’s pay and tackling low wages.
“It is great news for people in Kingswood that Labour has pledged to offer a National Insurance break for a year to those who pay the living wage - this is a fantastic incentive. I am also proud that our local Labour councillors took the initiative to ensure the Living Wage was secured to all those working for the council, and on Monday we got agreement that the Council will look at extending the living wage to businesses with Council contracts.
“The vast majority of people in Kingswood have a good work ethic. But it is profoundly unfair that people who are just trying to do the right thing by taking work when they can, end up in jobs that don't cover the costs of rising bills. This is just not good enough – people in Kingswood deserve a better deal for their hard work.”
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, joined the Labour team in Kingswood yesterday out surveying local residents in Woodstock about their concerns. After the campaign session she said:
“It’s absolutely clear talking to local residents that what really matters is the daily pressure they are facing as costs continue to rise, squeezing wages month after month. Wherever I am in the country I meet people who work around the clock but struggle to cover the basics. Our focus as a Party is finding practical ways at every level to ease this pressure. I really welcome the work Jo is doing locally to tackle low pay and I’m proud of the clear steps a Labour Government will take in 2015 to strengthen the minimum wage.”