Housing chief backs Living Wage

Diane Bellinger, chief executive of Community Gateway Association
Diane Bellinger, chief executive of Community Gateway Association
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The head of a Preston housing association has backed giving its staff a pay rise to pay off.

Diane Bellinger, who leads the Community Gateway Association which runs hundreds of former council homes in the city, said she had already seen benefits of paying its 170-strong workforce the Living Wage.

The amount, which claims to mirror the genuine cost of living, is now being adopted by businesses nationwide.

The chief executive admits it was a tough decision to take, especially as it was also asking some of its suppliers to up their wages.

She said: “Not only because of the obvious commercial issues, but we needed to be careful if our suppliers pay their staff more, they do not start charging us more.

“Our philosophy is to be working in and supporting the community, and what better way than putting money directly into the economy?”

According to the Living Wage Foundation, the body set up to encourage more employers to pay the rate, two-thirds of employers now paying £7.45 an hour to staff have reported a “significant impact” on recruitment and retention.

A further 70% felt the Living Wage increased consumer awareness of them as an ethical employer.

Diane Bellinger admits that, while it is still early days for Gateway, it expects the wage bracket to boost its ability to recruit staff and keep them.

She says: “A lot of staff work for us because of what we do and want to be involved with that, it’s not about the money.”