STAFF have played a “key part” in the progress of Clydebank-based Together Energy and have been paid the living wage since it launched two years ago.

The independent energy supplier has more 40 members of staff and expects that number to grow to 60 in the next 12 months. It became officially accredited by the Living Wage Foundation two months ago.

Together Energy co-founder and chief executive Paul Richards said: “Establishing the business in Clydebank meant a lot to us and we are committed to growing the company here and creating more employment locally.

“We believe that in order to give the best customer experience, we should invest in our people. Our staff are important to us, and it shows.

“We launched Together Energy two years ago when we spotted a gap in the market for an energy supplier that does things differently.

“We set up the business with specific commitments to customers: offering a transparent, easy-to-understand service as well as the simplest bill in the industry and an aim to resolve all queries within eight hours.

“The staff, who have all been recruited from the Clydebank area, have been absolutely tremendous and have played a key part in helping us make so much progress.

“The real living wage, as endorsed by the Scottish Government and the Living Wage Foundation, is good for people as well as business. Even after the wage rate rose to £8.75 last month, a full £1.25 higher than the statutory wage for over-25s, it only confirmed our belief that people fundamentally deserve to be paid fairly for the work they do.”

In addition to the company’s commitment to paying higher wages, Together Energy has also created ambitious training programmes which include in-house coaching and a partnership with Strathclyde University that allows employees from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Through this partnership, the university has agreed to ringfence up to 15 places annually on its access course for Together Energy staff, with five spaces also set aside at the Strathclyde Business School from 2018. The first 10 applicants taking part this year left school with few or no formal qualifications. They also all come from the poorest 40 per cent of postcodes in Scotland, as defined by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). Together Energy pays the £475 fee for each of their employees on the access course, while also providing out-of-hours tuition, support through the application process, and assistance in applying for funding and bursaries.

The company will then provide flexible working for the candidates to help them balance full-time study with work and family life.

Richards added: “We firmly believe in identifying the brightest and giving them every opportunity to be the best, regardless of their background. We want to have fully-enriched people working with us and university gives them the opportunity to develop and add to their life experience.

“It’s a significant investment, but we think it’s the right thing to do for the local workforce, and the initiative will pay itself back in other ways. The knowledge the team picks up will help develop their language skills, meaning they’ll have better conversations with our customers.

“They’ll also develop expertise they didn’t know they had, and hopefully benefit from the discipline of being in a learning environment.”