‘Living Wage’ to be debated

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All city council employees could be paid at least a ‘Living Wage’ under proposals to be discussed by councillors next week.

Green councillors Andrew Kay, Ceri Mumford, Chris Coates and Dave Brookes, want Lancaster City Council to adopt the £7.45 Living Wage in place of the statutory £6.19 National Minimum Wage for people aged 21 and over.

That would mean a pay rise for around 50 existing council staff. Calculations based on the introduction of the old Living Wage of £7.20 prior to the recent 25p increase, showed that the cost to the council would be £134,400 over the next three financial years.

The four councillors have tabled a motion to be debated at next Wednesday’s full council meeting.

It reads: “Lancaster City Council supports the principle of adopting the Living Wage for all its employees.

“The Living Wage is a level of pay, above the minimum wage, currently set by the Living Wage Foundation and updated annually.

“The Living Wage established the principle that work should bring dignity and pay enough to provide the essentials of life.

“Council asks officers to prepare details of the financial implications of adopting the Living Wage in time for the 2013/14 budget process.”

A briefing note produced by council officers says a number of councils in the UK have already signed up to the Living Wage, including Preston and Hyndburn.

It has cross-party support, including from the Prime Minister David Cameron and Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband.

The officer briefing note says: “Research indicates that for those organisations who have introduced the Living Wage, in addition to the financial benefits to employees, a range of business and wider economic benefits have been reported, including reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and improved ‘employer of choice’ perceptions”.

But the note also identifies possible difficulties, including the need to ensure that the introduction of the Living Wage does not affect the council’s moves to ensure equal pay for all staff doing work of the same job grading.

The note says its introduction could also mean that some staff would no longer be entitled to benefits, making them worse off.

However, it adds that an Equality Impact Assessment of the proposal had been carried out and showed that it would have a positive impact overall.