London Mayor Boris Johnson has reneged on a pre-election promise that only hotels and restaurants paying a ‘London living wage' would be promoted by Visit London ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
Johnson, who increased the London living wage from £7.20 to £7.45 an hour earlier this month, made the vow at an election debate held by campaign group London Citizens in Westminster on 9 April.
The Mayor initially denied making the promise in a letter to Caterersearch, but when we presented his press office with video proof, he then sent an updated letter, in which he claimed a partnership with businesses would be a more effective way of implementing a London-wide living wage.
In the updated letter, Johnson said: "During my election campaign, I supported a list of proposals on the living wage that included this idea. However, further work in this area has made it clear that a positive approach of partnership with business to promote the London living wage is more appropriate, and likely to be more effective in achieving the key goal of the wider implementation of the living wage."
Johnson added that he would look for Visit London to play its part in promoting the London living wage with employers, but recognised that for many businesses it would take time to commit to paying it.
London Citizens said that it would continue to work with the Mayor's office and hoped that the pledge could be enforced by 2011, while Visit London agreed that a partnership approach would be most effective.
The U-turn will be welcomed by the hospitality industry.
Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, last week warned that bringing all catering employees up to £7.45 an hour would bankrupt most operators. Another source said the original policy would have left Visit London with a "very small list" of hotels to promote.
Watch Boris Johnson making his pledge on video here
By Christopher Walton
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