#livingwage – Youth campaign calls on Welsh Government to keep its promise on a Living Wage for Wales

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Fantastic and much needed campaign, please sign the petition

A nation-wide campaign has today (Tuesday, May 8) been launched by a group of Welsh young people working with Save the Children to ask that the Welsh Government works to deliver a Living Wage.

The group of young campaigners, aged between 10 and 16 have launched an on-line petition calling on First Minister Carwyn Jones and his government to tell them how they intend to fulfil their manifesto promise on a Living Wage for Wales.

They have decided to campaign on the issue because of the significant numbers of children who are living in poverty but who also have working parents. And the young campaigners are arguing that Carwyn Jones should take a first step by ensuring that the Welsh Government and Assembly sign up to become Living Wage employers themselves.

They then want to see the Welsh Government promote a positive example for the rest of Wales and encourage councils, universities, businesses and the NHS to become Living Wage employers.

In launching such a campaign Wales would emulate the Scottish Parliament, which has signed up to become a Living Wage employer and have led high profile campaigns to encourage other organisations to do likewise.

A ‘living wage’ is a minimum level of pay to ensure an acceptable standard of living and is currently calculated, by academics (Living Wage Foundation) looking at the cost of living, at £7.20 per hour (£8.30 for London). This compares to the National Minimum Wage for adults which is set at £6.08 per hour.

It is seen as a way of tackling in-work poverty and poor living standards and can lead to positive social outcomes in terms of health, well-being and education and also help boost the economy during difficult times.

The campaign ‘Step Up: A Living Wage To Live Life’, was chosen by young people from around the UK working with Save the Children following discussions around child poverty and what could be done to tackle the problem. Young people from Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland voiced concerns about their futures and not being able to get jobs that paid enough for them to be able to enjoy a decent standard of living.

Young campaigner Sophie Lacey, 16 who attends Willows High School in Cardiff said: “I think it’s unfair that some people aren’t earning enough money to have a good standard of living. I was inspired to campaign for the living wage because I am going to be looking for a job in the future and when I get one I want to be able to earn enough to pay the bills and not have to struggle to make ends meet.”

Iram Shahzad, 13 from Fitzalan High School in Cardiff added: “In the community I live in I see and hear about people who work for long hours in the day and only get paid a minimum wage which doesn’t cover the basics. The one thing that inspires me to campaign is knowing that some children suffer from lack of everyday essentials such as food and heating, just because their parents can’t afford them. Knowing that these children will have a better standard of living if their parents are paid more would make me happy.”

James Pritchard, head of Save the Children in Wales said: “These young people have today challenged our politicians to listen and keep their promises on a Living Wage for Wales.”

He added: “It should be a real wake-up-call to everyone in government to realise that the number one issue that the young people we work with is finding a job which pays them enough to live a decent life.

“We should be offering our young people a better deal than that, they should be able to expect that if they work hard at school and find employment, that job will pay them a Living Wage.

“This is also about hitting child poverty. Around 60% of the children living in poverty in Wales have at least one working parent so improving pay rates for those people will potentially make an enormous difference to the lives of the poorest children.

“We know that times are tough and budgets are tight but the cost to the public purse of improving pay rates for its lowest paid workers is relatively small and the message it would send is a powerful and important one.

“The message a Living Wage for Wales would send is that Wales will not abandon its lowest paid workers to a lifetime of struggling to make ends meet, that Wales will not admit defeat in the battle against child poverty and that Wales will not accept a future of hardship and worry for its young people.”

To sign the Save the Children young people’s petition go to https://www.assemblywales.org/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=723

For further information on the Save the Children young people’s ‘Step Up: A Living Wage To live Life’ campaign and to view an animation film go to http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/livingwage or follow us in twitter @savechildrencym #livingwage

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