The National Minimum Wage (NMW) was introduced in 1998 by the then Labour Government. At the time it was said to have lifted the income, and therefore living standards, of at least 1.5 million people. That figure was still some way below the 2.5 million who had previously received protection from the wage controls managed by the remaining 26 wage councils which were abolished in 1993. Regardless of political persuasion, most will agree the NMW was a step in the right direction for employee rights and incomes.
Fast forward 20 years and the NMW, which is reviewed annually by the Low Pay commission, has multiple age and circumstantial related escalators applied to it and has been subject to several revisions. In 2016, Conservative Chancellor, George Osborne, announced a further extension to the scheme with the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW). The NLW applied to workers over 25 years of age and ensured that they would receive at least £7.20/hour – a figure based on a target to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020.
Whilst both the NMW and NLW offer important protection for the lowest paid in our society, they are based on national averages and therefore show little regard for regional fluctuations.
Based here in sunny Sussex we are acutely aware that the cost of living is far higher than in other areas of the country. To buy the average property in our nearest major city, Chichester (3 miles) you will need nearly £380,000* or £393,000* to live in the village near the office. We are also aware that our rural location and high levels of employment in the region creates an additional hurdle in terms of recruitment.
Aside from macroeconomic factors, as a business we have values. Our founders were family and two of our current Directors are direct descendants. Within our wider team we have other family members and we also have multiple members of other families working for us - we are a family. We care for our team and we wish to support them.
It is for this reason that we elected to voluntarily pay the Real Living Wage. The Real Living Wage is independently calculated and based on what people need to get by. It has separate rates for London and the rest of the country and is also paid to all workers over 18 years of age, where the NMW and NLW have those levels/escalators mentioned above.
It is a choice and one we take actively and proudly. Our success is based on the hard work and dedication of our team and so we are happy to share that success with them. The result is an above average staff retention rate, which reduces recruitment and induction costs and the unquantifiable cost of lost knowledge.
*Rightmove average prices 12 months to May 2019