Hundreds of the lowest paid county council workers across Mansfield and Ashfield are set for a welcome wage boost after the authority announced plans to implement the Living Wage.
The move would see 2,200 Nottinghamshire County Council workers - most of whom occupy frontline roles such as cleaners, school crossing patrols and care workers - given a pay rise to £7.45 an hour.
County council leader Alan Rhodes, pictured left, told Chad that introducing the Living Wage is the ‘decent and morally right thing to do’.
“It will give people a decent income, it will help our struggling local economy by giving people spending power and it will help with morale and the retention of staff,” Coun Rhodes said.
cost of living
The Living Wage is calculated independently to reflect the amount needed to meet the basic cost of living so people are free from poverty.
It is higher than the national minimum wage, which currently stands at £6.19 and is going up to £6.31 on 1st October.
More than 80 councils in England and Wales have signed up to pay their staff the living wage, including Ashfield District Council, Mansfield District Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council.
Coun Rhodes said he was ‘shocked’ to hear that so many council employees currently earn below the living wage.
“It makes a mockery of the impression that all county council staff are overpaid and feather-bedded,” he said.
“These are people who do a really important job that’s valued in our communities but unfortunately is very underpaid.
“I think most people will recognise the kind of workers we are talking about because they see them everyday.
“They are people who really make a difference in our communities.”
Introducing the living wage was a Labour party manifesto pledge prior to May’s election, and Coun Rhodes said that they are putting the proposal before the council at the earliest opportunity.
It will cost around £1.3m a year to implement - which works out at around 0.6 per cent of the county council’s total wage bill.
Though the authority is currently consulting on how it can make budget savings of £154m over the next three years, Coun Rhodes said that in context, introducing the living wage does not cost a lot of money and said there ‘is a good case’ for doing so.
“We just want to be able to reward our lowest paid staff in this way and send out a message about how we value their work,” he said.
The majority of workers set to benefit from the salary increase are part-time workers, many of whom are women and who are often relied on by the most vulnerable residents in the community.
Of the 2,200 people it will effect, 14.5 per cent are from Ashfield, 14.2 per cent live in Mansfield and 17.3 per cent are from Bassetlaw.
Coun Rhodes said that the concentration of low paid staff in this area reflects the ‘massive disparities’ in lifestyle between residents in the north and south of Nottinghamshire.
“Life for people in north of the county is very different to the south,” he said.
“We have known about this for a long time and very little has been done about it.
“It’s time to start addressing some of those inequalities.
“This is one way we can start, by improving salaries in some of our most deprived and disadvantaged communities.”
The Living Wage report is going to the county council’s Policy Committee on Wednesday 18th September.
If passed, the living wage will be implemented from the next financial year.