London Living Wage

MQT on 2014-12-17
Session date: 
December 17, 2014
Question By: 
Stephen Knight
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you think you are doing enough to ensure the London Living Wage is the norm in London by 2020?

Supplementary Questions: 


Answer for London Living Wage

Answer for London Living Wage

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Thank you very much, Stephen.  The answer to your question is that we are doing a huge amount.  There is always more that can be done by all of us.  I am delighted that just in the last year the number of accredited London Living Wage employers has doubled, just in one year, to 493.  That is a significant milestone.  I thank Kit Malthouse, who is here, the Deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise.  I thank many other Members of the Assembly who are championing this, although I notice that the Labour Party continues to fail to pay the Living Wage to its employees in ‑‑ where was it?


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, I wonder if ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Come on, where is old Miliband’s [Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party] constituency?  Doncaster.


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Doncaster.  They weren’t paid in Doncaster ---


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, given that you have less than 18 months left of your mayoral term, the question is whether you are on course, in your view, to delivering your 2020 Vision and your pledge to make London Living Wage the norm in London.  Is that going to be achieved?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Alas, I am very pleased with the progress that we are making, but I have to be honest with you and say that I would love to be here until 2020.  Unfortunately, I think another eight years is probably enough for a mayoralty.


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I would love to see it all through.  It could be achieved.  The snowball will need to accelerate very fast. 


Stephen Knight AM:  I assume you do not think ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  If it has doubled in one year, as it has, you could imagine a very rapid reduplication.


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, let us look at the progress.  Can we just look at the progress for a second, Mr Mayor?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Progress needs to be accelerated.


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, let us look at the progress.  If you look at your own figures, in the last three years of London Living Wage reports the number of Londoners paid less than the London Living Wage has gone from 700,000 in 2012 to 750,000 in 2013 and to 800,000 in the latest report in 2014.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is a function of the growth of the London economy.


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, the question is: if the number of Londoners paid less than Living Wage is going up, and the proportion of Londoners paid less than Living Wage is going up, then there is not really progress, is there?  You are going backwards. 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No.


Stephen Knight AM:  The question is whether you think that it is currently the norm in London.  Is the London Living Wage currently the norm?  If you are going backwards and you think you are getting there ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No, you should pay tribute to, as I said earlier on - and you are substantially repeating the non-point that was earlier made rather better by the Labour Party - the substantial achievement of the Chelsea Football Club and the first contract cleaning services company.  These are really difficult.  It is very difficult to do this.  They have done a brilliant job.  CTS Cleaning Services.  The first catering company, Party Ingredients Catering Services.  In hospitality ‑‑


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, we all want to ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Do not just override me now because these are real achievements by companies that are thinking ahead and doing the right thing.  It is important that we in office should salute their achievements.


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, whilst obviously those are to be encouraged, the truth is that, as the Economy Committee’s report said earlier in the year, the real problem of low pay in our economy is in the four key low pay sectors.  You said in response to a series of questions I put down last month some things you have done to encourage some people in those sectors.  In particular I refer to the 46 major retailers you wrote to this summer encouraging them to adopt the London Living Wage and the various fast food chains that your Deputy, Kit Malthouse, has apparently been speaking to.  What progress have you had with those 46 major retailers that you wrote to this summer?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It is interesting that you raise it.  We are making a lot of progress with some of the retailers.  Obviously, just as you think you are about to clinch it, their commercial position deteriorates or whatever.  It is not always easy.  The retail sector and hospitality sector are the most difficult to get over the line.  Look at what is now being achieved by these catering companies and by professional cleaning companies.  These are people whose business model relies on being able to pay their workforce very competitive rates.  Yet they are finding it makes sense to pay them decently and to give them the London Living Wage.  We should really be saluting them and congratulating them.  If Chelsea can do it, why not Arsenal? 


Stephen Knight AM:  Whilst I join you ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Why cannot every other premiership ‑‑


Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, that is a very good point.  Whilst I join with you in saluting those that are paying the London Living Wage, the truth is that far too many employers in low wage sectors are not paying the London Living Wage.  We need to do more to address that.  Can I ‑‑


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, I am not going to deny it.


Stephen Knight AM:  ‑‑ ask you one more question, Mr Mayor?  What could be done around encouraging, particularly in hospitality and catering, employers to pay a London Living Wage?  In London we know there are very large landlords.  I have asked you before around whether or not you will use your influence with some of the large landlords in London and we might also look at TfL who is a landlord --


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  TfL is an accredited Living Wage payer.  TfL is accredited.


Stephen Knight AM:  Indeed, it is, Mr Mayor, but TfL could insist that its tenants, which are coffee shops or retail or whatever, pay the London Living Wage.  You could do more to encourage --


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  We had a very good discussion on that.


Roger Evans AM (Chairman):  Mr Mayor, quickly, because we are almost out of time.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We had a great discussion yesterday with London Citizens.  London Citizens we should all pay tribute to.  They are the leaders in all this.  They have done an amazing job with the London Living Wage.  They have come up with a new approach, which is interesting.  It is called Buy Living Wage.  I think that is the slogan.  The idea would be that businesses that pay the Living Wage, like retailers or hotels or restaurants, have a pretty conspicuous sign on their premises.  All of us would know when we give them our custom whether they are Living Wage payers or not.  That would be a good thing and we encourage take-up.