AN award-winning bar in Edinburgh has joined the small but growing number of bars signing up for Scottish Living Wage Accreditation.

In the two years since James MacDougall took over Monty’s, near Haymarket, he has not only won a brace of awards but has also delighted the five staff by deciding to pay the real living wage.

“I thought my staff deserved a pay rise as they have worked very hard over the last couple of years,” he said. Having worked in the industry for nearly two decades, he was well aware of how hard it can be to live on the common low wages.

“There is a serious lack of decent pay in the hospitality industry and having been at the coal face myself earning not a lot of money I don’t feel it is fair,” said MacDougall.

“If you pay a decent wage it encourages staff to stay and with regards to recruitment it is a good selling point for us, especially as only a handful of bars are paying the real living wage.”

Since he started paying the increase he has not noticed a huge difference when it comes to balancing his books but pointed out that it can make a difference to staff of around £10-£15 per shift.

MacDougall was managing another Edinburgh bar when Monty’s came up for lease so he decided to take it over. Tied to a brewing company for the first 18 months, he succeeded in renegotiating so can now stock what he pleases. This has given a boost to his bottom line and made paying the real living wage an easier step to take.

His aim is to make the bar one of the best cask pubs in Edinburgh and, although it is a competitive market, Monty’s has already been named British Innkeepers’ Association Craft and Cask Bar of the Year for 2018 and won third place in Camra’s Edinburgh Pub of the Year.

“That’s been good for us as we have only been here for a wee while so it shows we are building up a reputation,” said MacDougall.

The only cloud on the horizon is Brexit as his loyal staff are mainly from other EU countries.

“What is going to happen is an absolute mystery and not good for us going forward,” said MacDougall. These members of staff are very much the face of the business with regards to regular customers and I don’t want to suddenly lose them all. Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

The real living wage is based on the cost of living and is £9 per hour for the UK outside London.