Sadiq Khan’s living wage attack on Zac Goldsmith backfires

An attempt by Labour to attack Zac Goldsmith for "gross hypocrisy" over the London Living Wage (LLW) backfired today after it was revealed Sadiq Khan had himself recently advertised for a job reportedly paying below the official recommended hourly rate.

The Conservatives also highlighted expenses claims suggesting Khan hired an unpaid intern in 2011.

Labour had put out a briefing yesterday, revealing that Goldsmith holds shares in a company which is currently advertising a job offering less than the LLW.

Companies House records confirmed that Goldsmith and other members of his family are shareholders in All Star Leisure limited, which manage bowling lanes across London.

The company is currently recruiting for a job paying £8, which is £1.40 below the official minimum level of pay required to live in the city, as endorsed by the current mayor Boris Johnson.

Labour accused Goldsmith of "gross hypocrisy" having recently backed the campaign for businesses to pay the rate.

"Just 10 days ago Zac Goldsmith’s campaign claimed he was a supporter of the London Living Wage – despite his five year silence on the issue. Now we find it’s all talk. A business in which he is an influential figure doesn’t pay the Living Wage. He is guilty of gross hypocrisy," Shadow chief secretary to the treasury Seema Malhotra MP said in a statement.

"If he won’t do anything in a firm where his family and friends are such big shareholders it raises serious questions about his ability or intention to persuade other employers in the capital to get on board," she added.

However, Goldsmith's campaign quickly pointed out reports that Khan had just recently advertised for a job which would have paid below the LLW.

The Labour mayoral candidate reportedly offered a position for an administrative office, at an annual rate of £17,170, which works out at less than the LLW hourly rate.

When confronted about the job advert by LBC's Nick Ferrari earlier this month, Khan insisted that the candidate would in fact be paid the full living wage

Goldsmith's campaign also pointed to parliamentary expenses claims which suggest that Khan had previously hired an unpaid intern.

The MP claimed for hundreds of pounds of travel expenses for an "intern/volunteer" in 2011 according to the parliamentary spending watchdog IPSA.

When contacted last night about the claims, a spokesperson for Khan's campaign would not comment on the claims.

However a source on the campaign told that the MPs records did not go back to 2011 and suggested that it was common practice for MPs to have volunteers working for them. They also denied that the administrative officer job had been advertised at the figure suggested by Ferrari. However they acknowledged that the advert may have been amended after the LBC interview.

The only version of the job advert still available online, does not contain the annual rate reported by LBC and only states that the job would pay the LLW, as do previous adverts for other positions placed by Khan's office.

A source within Goldsmith's campaign defended the Conservative candidate's relationship with All Star Leisure, and suggested that as he only owned 1.4% of the company, he had little control over the amount it pays staff.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: "Zac has worked with the Conservative Government to deliver the first ever National Living Wage, campaigned for the London Living Wage and will work with business to deliver this if he is elected Mayor.

"The only way to ensure more people get the London Living Wage is to have a Mayor who can work with businesses. That simply won’t happen with Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate, Sadiq Khan who voted against introducing the National Living Wage and is part of the most anti-business Labour movement in a generation.

"Sadiq Khan’s own record on unpaid interns and his failure to pay the living wage is yet another example of Khan preaching to the press and public but behind closed doors doing the opposite."