Public sector procurement is a huge source of Government spending, with contracts handed out for everything from the provision of pencils to capital projects like the building of schools and hospitals. We spend at least £9 billion a year on procurement, and many contracts go to businesses that employ a higher than average proportion of low paid workers, and many of these are women.  For example in Scotland, sales and customer service occupations as well as cleaners, kitchen and catering assistants had the largest percentage of employees earning less than the living wage.

I want to put social justice at the heart of our economy. A fair day’s work should mean a fair day’s pay. The Scottish Government has the powers and resources to ensure that anyone who is paid from the public purse earns a fair wage. The best way to do that through the Procurement Bill is to promote the living wage.

Labour has long understood the need to protect against working poverty, and the establishment of the national minimum wage stands out as one of the strongest achievements from the last UK Labour Government. The Living wage is the next step.

Research carried out by the Scottish Government has shown that implementing the Living Wage would increase the net income of a single parent with one child by five per cent, while a married couple with one child would see their income increase by 11 per cent.

Hard working families in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven are facing a cost of living crisis. The Scottish Government should be using its spending power to deliver fairer wages for them. Our hard earned money is going to 19 quango bosses who earn more than the First Minister, so why can’t it be used to deliver fairer wages for working people?

Government should be setting an example in bridging the pay gap between the average worker and senior executives.

The difference between the minimum wage and the living wage over the average working year is over £2,200. This is small change compared to the billions spent on public contracts but it would make a massive difference to hard working people in West Dunbartonshire struggling with soaring household bills.

It makes business sense too. Barclays have been paying the London living wage since 2007. In cleaning, they keep 92 per cent of their workers against 35 per cent across the industry. It keeps staff turnover, and the costs associated with it, down.

I will be supporting Scottish Labour’s amendment to the Procurement Reform bill to promote the living wage, and I hope the SNP and other parties will join me in doing so. It is the right thing to do for working people in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven.