Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said that the adoption of a living wage would help grow the economy and take people off benefits.
“Economists and recruitment agencies suggest that higher salaried jobs would have a positive effect on driving growth in the private sector. I have no doubt that this would be the case but I also believe that in the absence of sufficient high paid jobs in the short term that the introduction of a proper living wage would have the same effect.
“According to Neal Lucas Recruitment Agency while employees here work longer hours and are paid less, wage levels in the North of Ireland have fallen over the year to April 2014 by 2.2% while they have risen by 0.6% in Britain.
“Is it any wonder that there are more working poor dependent on top-up benefits here than there are in Britain. Not only would a living wage give some much deserved respite to the working poor but it would greatly increase the average disposable income. It would also remove many from the benefits trap and the increased spending would generate additional revenue and job creation opportunities for small businesses.
“Rather than cutting essential benefits from vulnerable people, politicians need to concentrate on ways of removing the reasons people depend on these benefits. I believe that the introduction of a living wage would go some way to addressing this.”