News and Star:

Outsourcing giant Capita’s decision to pay almost 6,000 of its UK employees the Real Living Wage early next year has been described as a “missed opportunity” by the Unite union.

Capita – which has a base at Kingmoor Park on the outskirts of Carlisle and employs around 90 people across the county – said it will pay the Real Living Wage as a minimum from April 2020.

It means that workers will be paid at least £9 per hour (or £10.55 an hour in London) compared to the national living wage, which stands at £8.21 per hour for people aged over 25.

Capita’s chief executive Jonathan Lewis hailed the move, saying that paying its employees the Real Living Wage was “a tangible demonstration of our commitment to responsible business”.

While Unite – which has members working for Capita on contracts that include construction, health and local government – welcomed the announcement, its assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail branded it a “missed opportunity”.

“An immediate pay uplift that would have helped assuage worries about the impact of a hard Brexit on day-to-day cost of living that all low income families fear,” she said.

“These legitimate fears are compounded by the revelations in the Government’s Operation Yellowhammer document that a no deal Brexit could see rises in food and fuel prices.

“We reiterate our call on all employers to implement the Real Living Wage, overseen by the Living Wage Foundation, which calculates the basic income needed to cover everyday necessities.

“More generally, Unite is strongly committed to negotiating a shift in how profits are distributed to reduce income inequality – that campaign will continue.”