EMPLOYERS and residents in Cam and Dursley have launched a campaign to have more people paid the living wage.

They hope that by encouraging more businesses to pay the living wage of £8.25 an hour they will reduce the reliance of many people on food banks and benefits to get by.

The newly-formed Living Wage Cam and Dursley launched a survey during Living Wage Week last week to find the real cost of living and working in the area, with the aim of getting more people paid the living wage.

Many of Cam and Dursley’s employers are already accredited living wage employers, including GL11 Community Hub and Longfield hospice, while supermarket giant Lidl pays the living wage.

Miriam Yagud, of Living Wage Cam and Dursley, said that other big employers including Tesco in Cam and Sainsbury’s in Dursley needed to follow suit. She said: “We’d like to see the other big stores in Cam and Dursley following their lead and paying all their staff the Living Wage. 

“By doing so they will be helping local people off benefits that supplement a low wage.”

According to Stroud District Council’s document the ‘Social Economic Profile of the Stroud District’, 40 per cent of all householders in the district earn less than £12,000 per year – several thousand pounds a year below the living wage.

The group is made up of local employers, organisations and residents. It was set up to find out the links between low pay and poverty in the area. 

Caroline Eardley, chairman of GL11 Community Hub, said: “At GL11 Community Hub we really value the work our staff do to support the community, and we’re committed to treating staff decently. 

“We all want a thriving community in Cam and Dursley, so paying a Living Wage is an obvious step for us.”

Doina Cornell, councillor for Dursley on Stroud District Council, said: “In 2013 Stroud District Council agreed to pay its lowest-paid employees the Living Wage. Not only does this help council staff meet the rising cost of living, we hope it sends a message out to local employers that they are part of their community and paying staff enough to live on really makes a difference.”

Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s argued that if you combined pay with the benefits packages they offer then their pay was much higher without introducing the living wage.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “Our pay and benefits package is significantly above the new voluntary Living Wage rate.  

“For established colleagues outside of London our package is equivalent to £8.79. As we improve our performance we’ll continue to share those rewards with colleagues.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We recently announced a record four per cent pay increase for 137,000 colleagues working in our stores, bringing their current basic pay to £7.36 per hour, including those aged under 25.  

“This is well ahead of the Government’s national living wage of £7.20 for over-25s being implemented by next April. 

“Our reward package goes beyond a headline hourly rate, and our benefits package in the round contributes significantly to our colleagues’ overall income. For example, we pay colleagues during their breaks and also pay an annual bonus - this year 133,000 colleagues shared £50 million.”

For updates on the Living Wage Cam and Dursley Group visit its Facebook page https://goo.gl/Cp0zvb