A senior health official has recommended to Hull City Council to consider raising the living wage to improve health standards in the city.
Julia Weldon, the director of public health in Hull, strongly feels that an increase in wages would go a long way in improving health in the city.
In an unprecedented move, Mrs Weldon has urged Hull City Council to consider raising remunerations for its staff in a bid to improve their lives. She said raising the living wage for its employees would be a great contribution on the part of the local authority in ensuring their workers led happier and healthier lives, which she said was in effect part of a wider plan to improve health in the city.
“We have got a renewed optimism from City of Culture and the major infrastructure changes and new jobs in the city and health and well-being is improving overall but that’s not true for everybody,” Mrs Weldon said.
National statistics show that life expectancy in Hull is below national averages with men in some wards living on average 10 years long than those in other parts of the city.
“We know that Hull has got some long-standing very difficult challenges in inequalities,” said, and added, “We know that poverty is a major driver for inequalities and inequalities drive health and well-being.”
Based on research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the income needed to sustain an adequate standard of living, the living wage is set by the Living Wage Foundation.
Current statistics place the living wage outside London at £7.85 per hour compared to the national minimum wage, which all employers must pay, of £6.50 per hour.
“Work is not a way out of poverty any more for many families. The majority of families have at least one person in the household working often on a low wage, often working zero-hour contracts so it is something we have got to have a dialogue about,” Mrs Weldon explained.
She said she hoped the council would adopt the living wage to set an example that other major employers in the city would compare with so as to achieve a uniform minimum wage in Hull.
However, when contacted for comment, a council spokeswoman responded that the council was cognisant of such ideas but that adoption or implementation of such moves required discussions with the workers and their representatives, such as trade unions.