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Brighton and Hove tourism firms warned over Living Wage snub
Tourism businesses in Brighton and Hove have been told they must sign up to the Living Wage campaign or lose out on the best staff.
Tony Mernagh, executive director at the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said hospitality firms which do not pay the living wage will be left behind as more companies sign up to the campaign in the city.
His warning came as Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, unveiled plans to deliver a “living wage” of at least £7.45 per hour for millions of people at the party conference.
He said Whitehall contracts would only go to firms paying the living wage, while those who paid less could be “named and shamed”.
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But the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce has pledged not to “name and shame” businesses that do pay the living wage in the city. It has so far signed up 93 firms to its campaign.
In April this year Brighton and Hove City Council received accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation as a Living Wage employer.
According to figures seen by The Argus increasing the minimum hourly rate of council staff from £7.19 to £7.45 in line with Living Wage requirements will cost £67,000 a year.
The council said the costs will need to be absorbed within existing budgets and it is expected that the Living Wage will continue to rise in line with inflation.
Soozie Campbell, chair of the Tourism Alliance, accused the council of hypocrisy in asking firms who do not pay the Living Wage to pay for membership of its tourism arm, VisitBrighton.
Mr Mernagh said: “There will always be those who can pay and those who can’t but the latter may find they struggle to attract the best staff when adoption of the Living Wage becomes widespread, which I think it will.
“It is inevitable low-paid staff will try to work for employers who pay better wages. The campaign has signed up its first hospitality business and others will doubtless follow.”
Ms Campbell said: “The council is currently taking money from members of VisitBrighton who do not pay the living wage. Is this not hypocritical?”
Adam Bates, head of tourism at the council, said: “It isn’t hypocrisy. The council supports the living wage and would like businesses in the city to support it too. VisitBrighton partners choose to support the city’s destination marketing voluntarily.
"It would appear odd for the Tourism Alliance to suggest something would reduce the overall pot for city marketing at a keep the visitors coming.” Meanwhile, City College Brighton and Hove said it backed the living wage campaign but was not seeking accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation.
Head of human resource HR Kathy Scott said: “The college has signed up as an employer to the Living Wage campaign, adjusting applicable staff salaries to this level from August 1.
"At this point in time, the college has decided that it will not seek to expand this to gain the national level of accreditation as this is a much wider issue and would require a comprehensive review of all college contracts for services provided to the college.”
Nobody from the Brighton and Hove Living Wage campaign was available to comment.
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