Fears over £200,000 cost of Living Wage for council workers
CONCERNS have been raised over plans to boost the pay of low-paid local authority workers at a cost of £200,000 a year to the council.
Proposals are being considered within Hartlepool Borough Council to introduce a Living Wage for its lowest paid employees.
It could see blue collar council workers’ hourly pay rise by around 15 per cent from £6.38 to £7.45 at a cost of £209,438 a year.
The Living Wage is a national campaign set up in 2011 and run by the Living Wage Foundation to address poverty.
It encourages businesses and local authorities to sign up to discretionary national Living Wage of £7.45 an hour, or as close to it they can afford.
The current minimum wage for workers aged 21 and over is currently set at £6.19 an hour, with workers under 21 pocketing at least £4.98.
Several local authorities have introduced the scheme and Hartlepool Borough Council chief executive Dave Stubbs said: “When others are introducing it, it would be remiss of us not to consider it.”
But Councillor Geoff Lilley, leader of the Putting Hartlepool First group, has questioned how it will be paid for and whether workers will be better off because of it.
He believes many workers will not see any benefit after adjustments to their Working Tax Credits.
Coun Lilley said: “I’m not against anyone getting a decent wage, but it’s got to be affordable.
“The composition of the working tax credit may mean in reality people are no better off, however we as a local authority are taking the hit for no benefit to the people we are trying to improve standards for.
“The majority of council taxpayers in this town are people on minimum wage who are also suffering.
“Most employers want to pay their staff a living wage, but you have got to have money coming in to any business.”
The council estimates around 500 employees would benefit from introducing a Living Wage of £7.45 an hour at a cost of £209,438 a year.
A report added: “There is currently no budget provision for a Living Wage and any additional costs would represent an additional budget pressure unless the costs could be contained within different staffing budgets.
Hartlepool Labour Group leader Christopher Akers-Belcher said he believed workers would be better off overall.
The Living Wage is set to be included in the council’s Pay Policy Statement for 2013-14.
Talks will take place with the unions and a detailed report will go to the full council for approval later.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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