Northumberland County Council has introduced the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage rate of £7.85 an hour.
The decision to implement the living wage rate will result in pay increases for around 1,400 county council and school staff, with affected workers receiving an extra 41-79p an hour. This will be reviewed on an annual basis.
The council, which employs approximately 12,500 members of staff, set up a working group two years ago to consider the implications of introducing the living wage for county council staff and to plan its implementation.
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Councilor Grant Davey, leader of the County Council, 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.”
Kevin Young, regional officer for the National Union of General and Municipal Workers (GMB), added: “A working group was set up by the council two years ago to plan the introduction of a living wage to county council employees.
“GMB welcomes the council being true to the commitment set out during budget announcements earlier in the year. Now, no employee of Northumberland County Council will be paid less than £7.85 per hour.”
The living wage rate recommended by the Living Wage Foundation is calculated according to the basic costs of living in the UK. The voluntary rate is currently £7.85 an hour in the UK and £9.15 an hour in London. The national living wage announced by the government in the Summer Budget 2015 will be compulsory for workers aged 25 and over. It will come into effect in April 2016 at an initial rate of £7.20 an hour.