14 April 2017
With inflation back on the up, household costs are rising again, and too many people already find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Even people with steady jobs are having to navigate their way through a harsh benefits system, or worse, turn to food banks for help. And even then, the food banks are having to provide cold boxes for families who can't afford the energy bills.
This simply shouldn't be acceptable in one of the world’s wealthiest economies. And while the Mayor's powers on incomes and benefits are limited, there are steps we can take.
So firstly, if I'm elected Mayor, I'll establish a Greater Manchester Real Living Wage, calculated to meet living costs, as opposed to the UK Government formula which may be called a National Living Wage but doesn't live up to the name.
I'll commit to the Combined Authority paying the GM Real Living Wage, and will insist that its suppliers and contractors do the same if they want the Mayor's business.
I'll push for GM’s Councils and other public bodies to follow suit, both in their pay and procurement policies. That way, the people of Greater Manchester can at least trust the public bodies who serve them to pay their workers a fair day's wage for a fair day's work.
While we don't have the power in Greater Manchester to make the Real Living Wage legally enforceable, we can at least start an accreditation scheme. I'll work with local businesses to pay their employees a fair wage, and publicise those who do with a Real Living Wage certificate.
But there will be one further condition to getting this certificate: no Zero Hour Contracts. Greater Manchester's workers deserve better than having to wait by the phone every morning to see if they're getting paid at the end of the day. I want to drive the Zero Hour Contract out of Greater Manchester.
Of course, wage policies only cover people in work, and I recognise that many trapped in the benefits system or unable to work find themselves without support.
That's why I'll challenge the government to be ambitious and let Greater Manchester take the lead in piloting the replacement of Universal Credit with Universal Income: a guaranteed income for everyone in the region, securing basic living standards for all.
This approach is being trialed in Finland as a measure to tackle inequality in the country and see that no citizen gets left behind. By not forcing people to jump through the DWP’s hoops for payments, we improve everyone's quality of life.
It means we don't force people into jobs they don't want, encouraging everyone to pursue the career they're really aiming for, improving job morale and productivity.
It means people who want to take time out from work for training or study can support themselves while they do it.
It means people with great business ideas but without the money to get started can afford to take the risk.
It means parents can reduce their hours or even take a career break to look after their families.
And it means people caring for family members with serious conditions get proper support to do so.
So it's an example of what we can do to build a better, fairer society. That's why it's at the heart of my vision for a Greater Manchester that leads the way in social justice.
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