Nursery one of first settings to be accredited as living wage employer

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A childcare provider in Oxfordshire has become one of the first UK nurseries to be accredited as a living wage employer.


Owner of Siblings Nursery Sarah McCarthy with staff

Siblings Nursery in Wheatley has been accredited by the Living Wage Foundation after committing to paying all employees a minimum of £7.85 an hour.

The 46-place nursery, which employs eight full time members of staff, is one of just three Living Wage accredited nurseries. The others are Fiveways Playcentre in Brighton and New Park Childcare in London.

Siblings Nursery is owned by Sarah and Steve McCarthy. Alongside his role at the setting, Mr McCarthy works as an electrical and stunt rigger for film and TV.

Last month Brent Council became the first local authority in the country to offer companies a discount on their business rates if they pay the living wage.

Employers can choose to pay the living wage, calculated according to the basic cost of living and set at £9.15 for London and £7.85 for the rest of the UK, on a voluntary basis.

Steve McCarthy, director of Siblings Nursery, said, 'We started our business five- and-a half years ago, in what turned out to be one of the worst global recessions in living memory.

'During that time we've come through planning bureaucracy and red tape. Banks withdrawing support halfway through a £750,000 new build project, and all the uncertainties that go with launching a new business in any economic climate.

'Through all that time we never lost sight of our goals. We wanted to develop a business that was a home-from-home environment offering first class childcare in a first class state-of-the-art purpose-built building. Just as important, we wanted to create a nice place to work.

'That includes investing in not only our business but also in our staff. I am a firm believer in that staff are your greatest asset. They are ambassadors for your business and deserve the very best we can offer. We value our staff and decided to review their salaries to reflect this.'

Owner and manager Sarah McCarthy added, ‘Our staff work really hard and they deserve to be paid more than the National Minimum Wage.

‘We are a good setting and want good employees that know they are appreciated - working in a nursery is a hard job.'

Brent Council

From April, Brent Council will offer companies a discount on their business rates if they pay employees the living wage.

Under the council’s scheme, employers in Brent that commit to paying staff the living wage could receive a discount of as much as £5,000 off their business rates.

Large companies with more than 500 staff would save £5,000, while the smallest with fewer than ten employees would receive a £250 discount.

Half the cost of the council’s scheme is being met by the Government following changes it put in place to give councils more flexibility over business rates. Brent council will provide 30 per cent of funding and the Greater London Authority will pay the remaining 20 per cent.

Greenwich Council is also expected to adopt the idea, while Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves has said it will be encouraging all councils to do the same.

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