Living Wage in Scottish Football

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at on 8 September 2016.

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Photo of Jamie Hepburn Jamie Hepburn Scottish National Party

I join other members in thanking James Dornan for securing the debate, and I thank those members who have contributed to it.

I will begin by picking up on Mr Finnie’s remarks. He is quite right to make the point that many members are signed up as living wage champions. I am happy to say that I am one such member of the Scottish Parliament, and I encourage those members who are not yet accredited to follow suit.

I thought that Douglas Ross’s performance today was much better than it was when I saw him running the line at Firhill park during the recess in the Partick Thistle v Hearts fixture. He called far too many Partick Thistle players offside for my liking. In that regard, not being involved in the same fashion in the fixture that Mr Ross will be officiating at on Saturday, I should like to utterly disagree with his remark that it will involve Glasgow’s two biggest football clubs.

The debate is an opportunity to highlight not only the cultural and economic contribution that Scottish football makes but the distinctive approach to fair work that the Scottish Government has adopted, which includes the living wage. The living wage is critical to us as an Administration. Through our pay policy, we ensure that everyone who works for us is paid at least the living wage. As I mentioned to Mr Leonard, we also provide funding to the Poverty Alliance for it to promote the living wage and, most recently, we have ensured that we are leveraging an additional resource to integration authorities to ensure that those who work in the social care sector can be paid the living wage.

The labour market strategy that we published last month says that we want Scotland to be a more successful and fairer country, with a strong economy and a vibrant, fair and inclusive labour market. A strong focus for the Government is on creating more jobs, better-quality jobs and jobs that work for everyone in terms of skills, pay, security and prospects, because we know that people who feel valued and empowered drive innovation and growth. I will return to that later, but that is why we believe that the living wage is so important and why paying it is the core requirement in the Scottish business pledge that the Scottish Government has established. As well as Hearts being a living wage accredited employer, we should reflect on the fact that it is a signatory to the Scottish business pledge. Indeed, the First Minister launched the pledge at Tynecastle stadium.

As Douglas Ross said, football clubs across Scotland play an important role in the communities where they have roots, supporting a range of social and educational programmes. Given that being a health minister was my previous role, I need not labour the point that Mr Finnie should be eating rather fewer pies when he goes to the football. That is not my concern any more but, having been the minister with responsibility—