Martin Ford 08 October 2019

Living wage boost would benefit hundreds of thousands of council staff

Hundreds of thousands of council workers stand to benefit from pledges to increase the National Living Wage.

The two biggest political parties have committed to increasing the National Living Wage, which currently stands at £8.21 per hour for those over 25, £7.70 for those aged 21–24 and £6.15 for ages 18-20.

At the Conservative party conference last month, chancellor Sajid Javid pledged to increase the National Living Wage to £10.50 within the next five years and lower the age threshold from 25 to 21.

Labour has previously promised to raise the wage to £10 in 2020 and reduce the age to 18.

Although the national agreement ‘Green Book’ covering 1.4m workers sets minimum pay at £9 a hour, the Living Wage Foundation campaign found earlier this year that 389,000 council workers and 249,000 outsourced employees are earning less than this.

The campaign advocates a ‘real living wage’ of £10.55 in London and £9 elsewhere in the UK and has accredited 62 local authorities.

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: ‘As major employers, we know the significant impact local authorities have on their areas when they commit to paying a living wage, with other local employers often following suit.’

However, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Julie Ogley, said the care sector needed more than a National Living Wage rise can achieve.

She said: ‘Although news of a planned National Living Wage increase is very welcome, sadly this alone isn’t enough to prevent social care from losing valued staff to other sectors.

‘We need a national workforce strategy in the medium term to give them very much deserved parity of pay for our frontline staff with their NHS colleagues, and a long term aim to progress towards a salaried workforce including the serious consideration of a social care minimum wage.’

A Local Government Association spokesman said that as a Government policy, National Living Wage rises constituted a cost pressure and therefore must be fully funded by Whitehall.

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