'THIS is Living Wage Week, an opportunity to highlight the importance of all employees being made the real living wage (as opposed to the national minimum wage), to welcome the progress that is being made and to look forward to seeing the number of accredited Living Wage Employers increase still further.

This week it was announced that the Real Living Wage is to rise to £9 in Scotland. The number of living wage employers in Scotland currently stands at 1,293.

I want to encourage all employers in my constituency to consider whether they would benefit from joining the scheme.

The Scottish Living Wage is independently calculated based on the cost of living and is a higher rate than the minimum wage, which the Tories have misleadingly rebranded as the ‘National Living Wage’.

Employers have found that paying the real Living Wage leads to reduced absences, improved staff retention and an increase in productivity.

And 70 per cent of employers felt that the Living Wage had increased consumer awareness of their organisation’s commitment to be an ethical employer.

If you are an employer who is interested, I’d strongly encourage you to contact the Scottish Living Wage Foundation who can advise you on the process and the benefits of accreditation.

They can be reached at scottishlivingwage.org, by email at accreditation@povertyalliance.org or by phone on 0141 353 0440.

There are currently 54 accredited Living Wage employers in the Fife Council Area, let’s get that higher and encourage all employers in Fife to become accredited.

For business, paying the Living Wage makes sense – it’s an investment in people The Scottish Government has shown a real lead on this issue. Did you know, for example, that of the 4.738 accredited Living Wage employers in the UK, 27.8 per cent of them are in SNP-run Scotland, while only 3.7 per cent are in Labour-led Wales.

Those figures tell quite a story. As does the research published this week showing that the income gap between the richest and the poorest in the UK is widening, and that it is far wider than the vast majority of comparable countries. And the Tories try to tell us that austerity is nearly over!

It is completely unacceptable that the UK government did not use last week’s Budget to raise the National Living Wage, extend it to all workers and end discrimination of young people. With low pay one of the main drivers of in-work poverty, it is vital that employers who can pay the real Living Wage do so'.