Dundee is becoming the UK’s first real living wage city

A collective of 50 employers have said they would aim to pay their employees the real living wage of £9 per hour

Dundee will become the first UK real living wage city – with 50 employers committing to paying their workers the voluntary £9 per hour rate, up from the national living wage of £7.83.

The city council, publishing giant DC Thomson, Dundee Voluntary Action and the local chamber of commerce are among the employers turning the city’s prospects around – helping the Scottish government meet its aims to become a living wage-nation.

“The significance of the living wage cannot be overstated,” said Minister Jamie Hepburn.

Dundee has faced hard times: in January 2018, the End Child Poverty Coalition published a report revealing the city has one of the worst child poverty rates in Scotland, with more than 8,000 children – 28 per cent – growing up below the poverty line.

In November 2018, 845 Michelin factory workers were made redundant when the French firm closed its factory in the city. The department of work and pensions published figures in February showing 4,421 people aged 16-64– 4.5 per cent of the eligible workforce – are currently unemployed in Dundee.

Dundee has had to think creatively to combat poverty and unemployment. The city is in the midst of a £1bn development project of its waterfront, including the recent opening of the Scottish V&A and an expected growth of 7,000 jobs.

Dundee can take inspiration from other UK cities championing real living wage and local development. Jobs and prosperity in Preston are on the rise with many local firms already paying Real Living Wage. Preston council announced on Wednesday it will launch a program to grow worker-owned businesses in the city – investing £1m in rent free premises for independent businesses and fostering a local outlook.

Even as other city councils sell their community spaces to pay redundancy packages, Dundee and Preston are finding ways to boost growth and keep workers out of poverty.

National Living Wage

  • £7.83   
  • Statutory Law
  • Applicable for 25 and older
  • Same nationwide
  • National minimum wage is £7.38 and is statutory law for age 21 and over.                  

Real Living Wage

  • £9.00
  • Voluntary
  • Applicable for 18 and older
  • Higher rate (£10.55) in London

Words: Anna Whealing