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County council staff to get 'real living wage'

Created on 13/03/2019 @ 09:27
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Powys County Council workers in Newtown will, from April, be paid the same rate as that advocated by the Real Living Wage Foundation.

Councillors agreed to the move this week which will affect all council staff in the county.

The motion was put forward by Cllr Sarah Williams at the last full council meeting and was voted through by a slim margin.

The motion was part of a wider discussion on council staff’s pay policy.

The suggested figure by the Living Wage Foundation is £9 for over 25s and the statutory National Minimum Wage is £7.83 and hour.

Cllr Williams said: “The living wage foundation rate is calculated each year and assesses the real cost of living.

“We are asking the council that no staff fall below that level.

“Evidence shows that low paid workers spend more of their income locally and this will also help the local economy.

“More often than not it’s predominantly women who are employed in the lowest paid work through services like care, catering and cleaning.

“By ensuring this council’s lowest paid workers are not earning less than the cost of living we are doing right by our staff and for their families.”

Graham Evans, professional lead employment services, said: “The living wage foundation rate is set on the first Monday in November.

“If you do adopt that or become accredited to the Living Wage Foundation, that must be in place by 1 May.

“The lowest paid staff in the council will be paid £9 an hour from April. which is the equivalent of the Living Wage Foundation rate.

Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe said that the motion should be put into the council’s constitution as the decision to support it needed to be made annually.

“It’s here now, let’s support it and get it tied in for future and then there are some guarantees,” said Cllr Ratcliffe.

Labour group leader Cllr Mathew Dorrance said that the Living Foundation Rate had been in force in Powys before being repealed by the Independent/Conservative administration in 2017.

“When you pay staff the real wage, local authorities reap the benefit.”

Cllr Dorrance said that data showed that sickness rates fall and staff retention increases.

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies urged caution: “This is an annual policy we review.

“There will be cost implications in future that we don’t know what they are.”

Cllr Davies pointed out the council would be paying £9 an hour from 1 April.

Portfolio holder for Corporate Governance, Housing and Public Protection, Cllr James Evans, said: “I’m quite proud this authority is paying more than the national Minimum Wage.

“I’m quite happy to have this debate every year because I think it’s healthy to have it.”

Conforming with the Real Minimum Wage Foundation figures will come into force in the 2020/21 budget.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

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