Authority set to introduce Living Wage

The members of Northumberland County Council will soon vote on whether it should adopt the Living Wage for all its staff from October this year.

The nationally-accredited scheme is an hourly rate set independently, updated annually each November and promoted by the Living Wage Foundation, which is part of the campaigning group Citizens UK.

In November 2014, the Living Wage for those outside London rose to £7.85 per hour.

Following an indication in its budget earlier this year that the Labour administration wanted to introduce this for all council staff, including school-based employees, a working group was set up to look at the possible impacts.

In a report to a recent meeting of the authority’s economic growth and corporate services scrutiny committee, the group recommended that the Living Wage is adopted and it will now go forward to the cabinet and full council for a decision.

Northumberland County Council’s lowest hourly rate is currently £7, above the national minimum wage, which is currently £6.50.

Across its staff, the rise to a minimum of £7.85 would affect 1,412 employees/posts.

The introduction of this rate from October 1 would result in additional costs overall of £275,000 this financial year (the full-year effect would be £551,000). The cost to the council’s general fund would be £65,000 and the cost to schools £210,000 (full-year – £131,000 to general fund and £420,000 to schools).

If the recommendation is approved, a letter will be issued to headteachers of all community, voluntary-controlled, voluntary-aided, free and foundation schools and academies, asking them to also consider adopting the Northumberland Living Wage.