Charity shops should pay all their volunteers the London Living Wage, a Islington councillor has said.
Tricia Clarke, a councillor for St George’s Ward, tweeted that Islington’s charity shops should pay their volunteers a living wage. This was in response to Islington Council’s campaign for more London Living Wage job opportunities. Speaking to Islington Now, Ms Clarke said “we need jobs in Islington and the high street would have been a place that provided jobs”.
While Ms Clarke acknowledged that charities could make less money, she said that helping people in London who are unemployed is just as worthy a cause as any charity.“It’s fine if you’re retired and you want to volunteer but if you’re a young person and you’re working for nothing it’s very demoralising because you need to earn a living.”
“The top five charities are big businesses now. They’re dominating the high street because they get a massive discount on rates.” Charity shops qualify for rate relief of up to 80 per cent, meaning it can be easier for them to stay open at a difficult time for the high street.
Ms Clarke said that they still “do that function – they keep shops open, which is better than nothing”.Ellie Cox is one of the managers of the Second Chance independent charity shop in Archway, where volunteers are paid £6 per day.
In response to Ms Clarke’s comments she said “paying volunteers would just cut down an incredible amount of profit”. “My personal stance is that everyone should have an income, but volunteering is about retraining and gaining experience – it’s not meant to be a job.”
“Charity shops are doing their bit, but this is a larger issue – people who can’t find employment should go on benefits, and benefits should be better.”