EXCL Boris Johnson urged to 'end scourge of poverty pay' as Whitehall cleaners earn below Real Living Wage

Posted On: 
14th August 2019

Boris Johnson has been urged to “end the scourge of poverty pay” after new figures revealed staff working in a Government department earn well below the Real Living Wage.

Boris Johnson has been urged to make sure all people working in Government are paid the Real Living Wage
PA Images

Senior Labour MP Rachel Reeves is calling on the new Prime Minister to honour his pledge to pay Whitehall cleaners the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour. 

But it was confirmed that some contract cleaners working at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are paid around £2.50 an hour less than that.

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Ms Reeves has accused Mr Johnson of being “all talk and no action” after making the discovery following answers to several parliamentary questions.

The then-business minister Andrew Stephenson said last month that BEIS “does not have any employees paid less than the Living Wage Foundation London living wage”.

But from March 1, 2019 the department agreed with contractors they should pay cleaning, catering, mailroom and security staff “the appropriate median rates” as identified in the 2018 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). 

And the ASHE report for last year lists the median pay rates for security staff at £9.44 per hour, catering staff at £8.87 per hour, and cleaning staff at just £8 per hour.

Ms Reeves said the situation is likely to be reflected across other Government departments, and called on the PM to rectify the situation.

She told PoliticsHome: “Boris Johnson has talked a lot about expanding the Living Wage both before and after becoming Prime Minister. 

“These figures show that contractors working for Government departments are paying their employees far below the London Living Wage. 

“Johnson is all talk and no action.”

The MP for Leeds West called on the PM and the new business secretary Andrea Leadsom to ensure BEIS and all departments “are accredited with the Living Wage Foundation so all workers, including contract workers, are paid fairly”.

Last month Mr Stephenson said the change in contractor pay meant “some of our lowest paid security guards saw an increase of over 15%”.

And a spokesperson for BEIS said: “We value all of our staff at BEIS and our priority is to ensure they receive a fair wage for their hard work, whether directly employed or working for our contractors.”