Green Party member and disability rights campaigner Simone Aspis has sent me copies of these letters she has sent to the CEO of PoundWorld and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
To Chris Edwards, CEO PoundWorld:
I have just watched the C 4’s Undercover Boss, a feature of PoundWorld. I understand that PoundWorld has made millions of pounds profits and can well afford to pay all their staff more than the minimum wage. Please do not tell us that you cannot afford to pay your sales assistants more than the minimum wage. I work for a charity and get paid more than your sales assistants. I am sick and tired of subsiding national and multinational companies’ staff wages in form of Government’s benefits and in-work tax credits. Anyone who works hard for 35 hours per week should be paid enough to live on without Government’s subsidies. No one can live on the minimum wage whilst working and living in London. Many of your staff would still need to claim housing benefit in order to live in rented shared accommodation. It’s an absolute disgrace.
You are in a position to pay all your sales assistants enough money so they can:
1) Rent a self-contained flat in a relatively safe area
2) To pay for all bills (fuel, food, television licence etc)
3) Have some leisure
4) Provide for their family
Please stop forcing me and other hard paid workers from subsiding big companies sales assistants wages through their taxes. PoundWorld and you are more than financially capable of paying every member of staff a sufficient wage so they do not become a “burden on the state”. What angers me the most is not subsiding the unemployed, but rather your company’s employees’ wages.
To Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform
I am urged to ask the Government what its policy will be to ensure that employers pay all their full-time workers a sufficient wage so they are able to maintain themselves without relying on Government’s subsidies through in-work benefits after watching Undercover Boss. Please see letter I wrote to Chris Edwards, Pound World’s CEO. I am getting really sick to death of my taxes being used to subside big profitable company’s wage bills. For example every time I enter into any chain store (Pizza Express, McDonalds, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Pound World), I am mindful that my taxes are being used to subside their wage bill. This is because many of their staff’s wages do not cover the cost of living and renting a flat.
All but one of my friend’s wages is being topped up with in work tax credits. All my friends are paying rents for one bedroom flats.
As a tax payer I much rather pay for someone looking for a job rather than subsiding a company that chooses to pay their staff poverty wages.
When you respond to me, please refer to only what will the Government do to make sure employers pay a sufficient wage for their workers to live on. I know about the welfare reform programme and the universal credit. I think employers should be increasing their employees’ wages rather than Government increasing the amount of money that benefit claimants can keep if they accept low paid work. Please do not tell me that many of the well-known employers you and I know, cannot pay employees a sufficient wage so they can provide for their family in a self-contained rented accommodation. And please do not tell me none of these companies are not making a profit even during a recession because they are!