Living wage (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
November 19, 2014
Question By: 
Andrew Boff
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Andrew Boff AM:  Mr Mayor, are you aware that to make the London Living Wage compulsory would cost London businesses over £600 million a year and put under threat over 32,000 jobs?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Living wage (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Living wage (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  There are ways of calculating these things.  Obviously those were the types of argument that were made against the minimum wage before it was introduced.  I nonetheless agree that a compulsory Living Wage is not the way forward.  You would be voiding the point of it.  The Living Wage is there as a bond or as a compact between employers and employees.  It is something that is special and that has been championed by London citizens.  They are the people who really deserve credit for getting this whole thing going and for continuing their campaign.  They do not want it to be compulsory.  You should talk to them.  I respect what they have to say.  They do not want it made mandatory.  You lose the mission and the campaign and it becomes a matter of state coercion and that is not how it should be done.


Andrew Boff AM:  Of course, Mr Mayor, when the minimum wage was put in, the Labour Government at the time accepted that too high a minimum wage could actually affect jobs; hence that is one of the parameters that the Low Pay Commission must consider when it reaches that minimum wage figure.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Of course.


Andrew Boff AM:  I think it is accepted by Londoners as well.  In the research we have been doing, we have talked to a young full-time waitress called Augustina in Greenwich, 18 years old, and she said, “I earn £7.00 an hour and can double this with tips on a good day.  Of course I would like more money to help out with my rent, bills, petrol and other expenses, but at the same time I understand why the London Living Wage is not compulsory for good employers like mine.  I want to see the kind of job opportunity I have for other people, and by making the London Living Wage compulsory that opportunity would be removed”.  Do you see that, Mr Mayor?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I completely agree.  I completely agree.


Andrew Boff AM:  Curiously enough, a restaurant owner, again in Greenwich, also - one of your voters no doubt, Mr Duvall - who said, “In France, where I come from, there is too much tax and regulation which stifled business owners like myself”.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Look at their unemployment rate.


Andrew Boff AM:  Exactly.  “That is why I [this business owner] came and invested in the United Kingdom.  My restaurant has been running for six months and I employ five people on £7.00 per hour.  On busy days they can easily double their tips.  A blanket mandatory London Living Wage would be counterproductive.  It just would not work in this industry”.  This is somebody who has come to this country to provide job opportunities and sees that those opportunities will go if the London Living Wage is made compulsory.


Mr Mayor, I urge you to carry on in the good work that you have done in promoting the London Living Wage and ensuring more responsible large companies sign up to it.  Only in that way can we have responsible employers paying the kind of wages that Londoners want to see paid.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  What is so exciting about what is happening at the moment is that we are finally starting to see some of the more difficult companies joining the ranks.  Big cleaning companies and retail companies are joining as well.  I congratulate Deputy Mayor Malthouse on the work that he and his team continue to do to help London citizens.  It is a great campaign.


Andrew Boff AM:  Just one last point, Mr Mayor.  You may want to make yourself familiar; we have talked a lot about zero hours contracts, of course.  The Labour Party has made it a big thing.  Ed Miliband [Leader of the Labour Party] had made it a big thing.  I wonder if you could acquaint yourself with which local authority uses more zero-hours contracts than any other in the United Kingdom.  Are you guessing?  It is Doncaster, Mr Mayor.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No kidding.


Andrew Boff AM:  It uses more zero-hours contracts than any other local authority in the country.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Absolutely extraordinary.  Absolutely extraordinary.


Andrew Boff AM:  It is do as they say not do as they do, by the sounds of it.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is amazing.  Is that not amazing?  I agree with you.  I agree with you passionately.  I hope very much that the Living Wage will continue to be something that basically we all support and drive forward together.