My Column

Living wage is a boost for city and people

  • Date: Monday 11th March 2019
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I’m hugely passionate about the living wage – as all Scottish businesses should be – but it’s brilliant to see some going even further in their drive to reduce in-work poverty.

And I’m not talking about individuals or businesses. I’m talking about an entire city providing an inspiring example to others.

More specifically, Dundee is bidding to become the first ‘living wage city’ in the UK, which is a hugely laudable aspiration.

For those who may not be aware, the living wage is based on what employees and their families need to live.

As living costs vary across parts of the country, there is a different rate for London and the rest of the UK. In Scotland, it’s currently set at £9 an hour.

While to many people that may not sound like much, it’s an absolute lifeline that can make all the difference on a week-to-week basis.

The initiative aims to reduce in-work poverty by encouraging employers to pay the £9 an hour rate instead of the minimum wage, which is currently £7.83 for over-25s and just £4.20 for under 18s.

Last week, more than 50 employers across the ‘City of Discovery’ had already committed to paying their staff and subcontractors the living wage, covering a quarter of all its workers.

This wonderful initiative has been spearheaded by the city council, DC Thomson and the local chamber of commerce – and more are expected to get on board, providing what could become a city-wide resolve to pay staff a fair wage for a good day’s work.

With last year’s opening of V&A Dundee, not to mention the ongoing £1billion redevelopment of the waterfront area, the city is forging a strong reputation for being a forward-thinking, sustainable, and considerate place to live and work.

However, that’s against the stark backdrop of Dundee having one of Scotland’s highest rates of deprivation, including more than 8,000 children living below the poverty line.

The city’s living wage initiative has also come on the back of the Scottish Government laying out plans to make Scotland a ‘living wage nation’ over the next few years, benefiting some 25,000 people.

And why not? Efforts to persuade more organisations in low-paid sectors to join the scheme should be a no-brainer. After all, you get happier, more productive staff, not to mention the reputational boost that you receive in the community as a responsible employer that treats its staff well.

Evidence also suggests paying the living wage lowers sickness absence and boosts retention of the workforce.

I firmly believe that the more we can place equality at the heart of our labour market, then the better for all – but let’s not get carried away. Tremendous work still needs to be done.

This time last year, the UK Government named and shamed 15 Scottish employers for underpaying more than 200 minimum wage workers by nearly £75,000.

That’s just unacceptable, but if more and more commit to paying the living wage then we’re helping to stamp out that appalling minority by sending a very clear message of unity.

There’s also of course no reason why Dundee’s efforts can’t be replicated elsewhere, in turn helping to fulfil the country’s ‘living wage nation’ ambition.

So where do we begin? Well, I reckon that living wage-accredited businesses are the perfect place to start.



Scotland’s music industry has always been something that I’ve been proud of.

We’ve produced some of the world’s greatest musicians, we have brilliant music venues – from the SSE Hydro, to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and Usher Hall – not to mention some brilliant festivals.

But despite our great Scottish music roots, it seems like it’s not an equal playing field, which is why a brand new campaign has been launched solely to support women in the industry.

It was created by Scottish Women in Music (SWIM) to encourage gender equality in all areas of the music business.

The initiative has been backed by music promoters DF Concerts, Creative Scotland, the Scottish Music Industry Association, and the Musicians Union – as well as events such as Celtic Connections and the Glasgow Jazz Festival.

It was perfect timing for the campaign as it launched at the weekend and coincided with International Women’s Day.

During a time where gender equality is a big priority in all businesses and trades, it’s encouraging to see people in the music industry taking action to rectify the situation.

The weekend also saw an iconic Glasgow music venue renamed in honour of women with the brilliant launch of Queen Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.

The special event, which also took place on International Women’s Day saw Scots artists The Vegan Leather, The Van T’s and Scarlett Randle take to the stage.

It is inspiring to see this change happen, and as a father it gives me hope that women will grow up with the same opportunities as their male counterparts without a second thought.



No one knows what the future holds but the folks at VisitScotland have a fair idea of what they think Scotland’s tourism industry will look like in 50 years’ time.

They’ve released a research paper full of predictions for the year 2069 and according to them it will be a little different than it is now.

Think robot butlers, ‘midge haggis’ becoming an insect protein-filled delicacy for foreigners, and flights to New York in just two hours.

The clever team at VisitScotland have produced the tongue-in-cheek paper, ‘Tourism Futures 2069’, as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations.

On a more serious note, they hope to boost Scotland’s tourism revenues by £1billion by 2020.

Let’s just hope midge haggis isn’t part of it.



It’s a topic which regularly appears in my columns but it’s difficult to avoid mentioning the high street when every week there is constant news of failing businesses and store closures.

Last week saw retailer LK Bennett go into administration and now John Lewis workers have had their bonuses cut for the sixth year in a row due to its loss in profits.

A move into administration throws the future of the 41 LK Bennett stores and nearly 500 of its employees into uncertainty.

It saddens me to hear that two great British retailers are either in jeopardy or battling the current financial climate, and only proves how much uncertainty lies ahead.

Buckle your seatbelts folks – but I firmly believe we will come out the other side.




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