Jonathan Werran 24 September 2012

Councils 'leading the way' in fair pay

Local authorities are in the vanguard for narrowing the gap between the highest and lowest paid staff, equalities campaign group One Society has reported.

Entitled ‘Leading the way on fair pay’ the assessment - based on the pay policy statements of 174 upper-tier authorities in England and Wales - found 20% of authorities have pledged to pay staff the ‘living wage’ and a further 8% are considering doing so.

Additionally, some 7% of authorities currently require their contractors to pay staff the independently set and annually updated rate, worth £7.20 an hour across the UK and £8.30 in London.

At the opposite end of the pay scales, more than one-in-eight major councils have spelled out how they plan to reduce chief executive salaries in their pay policy statements. Measures taken to tackle council high-earners include voluntary reductions in wages, hiring new chiefs on lower pay-scales and - in the manner of Wiltshire and Kent - removing the chief executive role completely.

Director of One Society, Duncan Exley, said the government must act to ensure that public sector pay policy reporting is more comprehensive and comparable if their objectives of accountability and fairness are to be achieved.’

‘Local authorities are large employers and procurers of services, consequently their pay policies will have a significant effect on the wellbeing of local people and the local economy.’ A spokesman for the Local Government Association said the report ‘confirms that councils are tackling unprecedented financial challenges in a way which is fair to local taxpayers and the workforce’.

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