Council workers across Northumberland are benefiting after the living wage was introduced for staff.
The council was true to its commitment set out during budget announcements earlier in the year – and the living wage was brought in months before the Government rolls out its National Living Wage scheme nationally.
Now, no employee of Northumberland County Council will be paid less than £7.85 per hour. A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs including housing, clothing and nutrition and is higher than the statutory minimum wage.
The North East reflects the national average with more than one in five people receiving less than the living wage, a figure that is slightly higher in Northumberland.
A working group was set up by the Labour authority two years ago specifically to plan the introduction of the Northumberland living wage to county council employees.
Leader of the council, Coun Grant Davey, said: “Our decision to implement a Northumberland living wage is in recognition of the excellent work our employees do – not just for the council, but more importantly for the benefit of the residents of Northumberland.
“We are living and working in tough economic times and it is no secret we are having to make substantial savings as a council. However, ethically and morally, the council feels strongly that this is something we should do.
“Through showing our commitment to ethical employment, we are aiming to boost morale as well as the local economy through higher incomes for local people.
“This also means we are ahead of the Government who are introducing the living wage nationally from next year.”
The Northumberland living wage will result in pay increases for approximately 1,400 county council and school staff, and will be reviewed on an annual basis by the council. Affected staff will now receive an additional amount of between 41p and 79p an hour.
Cllr Scott Dickinson Business Chair at Northumberland County Council said: "We said we would do it and we have, it was one of our pledges, just like Free Parking and many other successes we fulfilled. This will benefit the right people in the Council staff list, some people will not have received increases for many years. They deserve it, we are all happy to have been able to deliver it to Northumberland".