A CITY farm in Edinburgh has become the 800th organisation in Scotland to be accredited as a living wage employer.

Secretary for fair work Keith Brown visited Gorgie City Farm to mark the milestone in the Scottish Government target of reaching 1,000 accredited employers by autumn 2017.

Organisations can join the scheme if they pay employees the “real living wage”, which is currently £8.45 per hour and is set to reflect the real cost of living.

Brown made the announcement while visiting the farm where he met staff benefitting from their commitment to fair work principles.

He said: “This is a significant step in our drive to promote fairer working environments for Scottish employees and ensures people’s basic wage continues to meet the real cost of living.

“Paying the real living wage makes sense for businesses. It’s an investment in people and all the evidence shows it leads to increased productivity and reduced staff absence, while sending a strong signal to customers about fairness.

“I am particularly pleased that Gorgie City Farm has made this commitment, setting a good example to other employers around the country.

“We will continue to work with the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative to encourage more businesses to recognise the benefits of paying the real living wage as we move towards meeting our target of reaching 1,000 living wage accredited employers by autumn 2017.”

Located two miles from central Edinburgh, the site of the Gorgie City Farm was used by the city corporation as a waste depot until the 1930s, when horse-drawn refuse carts would empty their loads from wagons. During World War II, the site was used as a civil defence training area. It then lay derelict and disused, and was owned by the local authority for many years.

In 1977 a community group started work clearing the site and transformed it into Gorgie City Farm. There were plans to develop the site for housing or for a school but local people insisted green space was the priority and the city farm opened to the public in 1982. Ever since it has been working farm, selling lambs, pork, eggs, vegetables and manure to raise some of it’s running costs, and visited by tens of thousands of happy visitors every year.

The farm’s chief executive Josiah Lockhart said:”Becoming a living wage organisation is an important milestone for Gorgie City Farm acting on our charity’s principals of supporting people to live fuller, more equitable lives. Making sure all our staff are paid the living wage, many whom came through our support programmes, ensuring they all are valued and able to make ends meet.”

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, congratulated the farm on becoming the 800th living wage employer in Scotland.

He added: “The real living wage has overwhelming support in Scotland, as demonstrated in a recent Survation poll with three out of every four Scots supporting it.

“And over 25,000 people have got a pay rise in Scotland with the real living wage – one that reflects the actual cost of living. It helps them have a better quality of life – from being able to do things like afford driving lessons, save some money for a rental deposit or have a night out at the cinema with friends.

“Accrediting is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate how much employers value their staff .”