Labour Council commits to pay staff living wage



Labour Run Northumberland County Council has reaffirmed its commitment to introducing a living wage for employees later this year.

As the council set its budget for the next two years it was announced the council would be introducing a living wage in October.

Although details still need to be worked out, the administration has always been clear about its intention to work towards a living wage.

Living wages are distinct from statutory minimum wages. A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs including housing, clothing and nutrition.

The principle underlying the Living Wage is that work should bring dignity and should pay enough to provide families with the essentials of life.

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 local authority in 2013 specifically to look at implementing a living wage for all council employees and the potential costs and benefits for the wider community in the context of other significant changes such as welfare reform.

Business Chair of the Council, Scott Dickinson, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “A living wage makes sense on every level – moral, social, business and economic.

“Making a living wage the bottom rate of pay in Northumberland County Council would not only improve morale but help reduce sickness absence and demonstrate to employees that they are valued.

“Higher incomes for local people would also translate into a welcome boost for the local economy.

“We realise there are still details to be worked out in meeting the additional cost of introducing a living wage at a time when public sector budgets are being significantly squeezed.

“However, as the single larger employer in the county we are looking to be at the forefront on ethical employment and social responsibility.

“We hope by demonstrating our commitment to the principles of the living wage it will prompt both private sector firms and companies and voluntary and community sector organisations to consider whether they too should adopt this approach.”

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