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Manchester food banks call on City and United to pay staff the living wage

Manchester United v Chelsea – Premier League – Old Trafford
(Image credit: Michael Regan)

Manchester food banks have called on the city’s Premier League clubs to pay their staff the real living wage.

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has drawn widespread praise for his role in highlighting the issue of child food poverty, which has been exacerbated by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, his club and their near-neighbours are not accredited with the Living Wage Foundation.

The chair of the city’s central food bank, Matt Stallard, points out that many of the people who access the service are in work, but earn less than the living wage.

The real living wage is currently £9.30 an hour across the UK except in London, where it is £10.75, according to the Living Wage Foundation. The rate is set to change next week as part of Living Wage week.

The food banks and the Greater Manchester Citizens have written to club executives asking them to adopt the living wage for all staff.

The letter, addressed to Ferran Soriano at City and Ed Woodward at United, said: “Both clubs are loved by so many in the city, and many have been inspired by the vital work your clubs have done during the pandemic, especially the incredible campaign led by Marcus Rashford MBE to tackle child food poverty.

“But the reality is that many of your own staff, including caterers and cleaners, are themselves struggling to put food on the table because they don’t earn the real living wage.”

According to the Living Wage Foundation, only five Premier League clubs – Everton, Liverpool, West Ham, Chelsea and Crystal Palace – currently pay staff the real living wage.

Conor McGurran, Greater Manchester Citizens co-chair, said: “Marcus Rashford MBE has united a city of reds and blues in support of his excellent campaigning against child poverty.

“Whilst both Manchester City and Manchester United undertake a great deal of valuable work within our communities, there is one simple step that both clubs could take to reduce child poverty within our city.

“It’s proven that the real Living Wage lifts families out of poverty – that’s why Greater Manchester Citizens is calling on our two successful and wealthy football clubs to become Living Wage accredited.”

Both United and City continued to pay staff in full during the first national lockdown rather than use the Government-backed furlough scheme.

United, along with the club’s foundation and through their partnership with the FareShare charity, distributed 5,000 meals to children eligible to free school meals during the October half-term.

United said: “Given the size of the club and with such a varied workforce across a number of specialist areas, staff salaries do differ, depending on their remit.

“However, all permanent and temporary employees, whether engaged on a full or part-time basis, are paid the national living wage.”

The national living wage for over 25s is £8.72 an hour according to the Living Wage Foundation website. The national minimum wage is £8.20 an hour and applies to anyone aged between 21-24.

Manchester City stressed they paid the living wage to “all directly employed staff and matchday casuals” although one current supplier is yet to upgrade their own contractual terms and adopt the scheme.

A club statement read: “Since 2013 Manchester City has paid the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage to all directly employed staff and matchday casuals. The club also requires all new suppliers to pay the living wage.

“All our current suppliers, bar one, pay the living wage, which make up the overwhelming majority of indirectly employed staff. The one outstanding supplier is due to an historic contract which will be uplifted, in line with our commitment that everyone working at Manchester City is paid the living wage.”