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Council brings in Living Wage

Posted onPosted on 4th Apr
Council brings in Living Wage

More than 2,200 of Nottinghamshire County Council’s lowest paid frontline workers had their pay increased from 1st April, after the authority became amongst the first in the East Midlands to introduce the Living Wage.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay, set independently every year and based on the cost of living in the UK. The rate (outside London) is currently at £7.65 per hour.

The introduction of the Living Wage will benefit employees – many of whom are part-time, female workers – in a range of frontline jobs such as caring for older people, cooking school meals, helping school children cross the road safely and cleaning classrooms.

In common with the majority of local authorities, pay, terms and conditions for the council’s centrally-employed staff are negotiated through a national agreement. Wages have increased by 1% since 2009.

Prior to the implementation of the Living Wage, the lowest paid council workers received £6.45 per hour.

As well as helping to recruit and retain staff, it is hoped that the increased minimum rate of pay will have wider benefits for the Nottinghamshire economy. Nearly half those receiving the increase are from Ashfield, Bassetlaw and Mansfield – the areas of the county with the greatest levels of deprivation.

Amongst the employees now receiving the Living Wage is Tracey Pinkney, of Ollerton.

Tracey (pictured) has two part-time jobs for the council, working as a school crossing patrol in Boughton and a school cook in Southwell.

Tracey, a mum of four, said being paid the Living Wage would make a big difference to her children. She said: “It’s been much harder to make ends meet in the last few years because the cost of living keeps going up.

“The rent is my biggest outlay but the price of food, gas and electricity have all gone up while my wages have stayed the same. We’ve had to cut back using the heating as much and put on extra clothes indoors when it gets cold.

“The extra money from the Living Wage will definitely help with day-to-day bills and maybe give us a bit of extra spending money.

“The council is a good employer and they were very supportive when I lost my dad. I enjoy working with children, so I like my work. You get to know lots of different people – children and parents – and the work can be rewarding, although it can be difficult working outside in the cold sometimes.”

Charlie Tate, of Kirkby, juggles three part-time jobs – two of which are for the council – to provide for himself and his wife.

Charlie had been unemployed for four months after being made redundant following the closure of a local concrete manufacturer. He successfully applied for the a position as a cleaner at Leamington School, Sutton, where he works after school finishes every weekday. He also managed to secure a similar job, this time from 6am-8am every weekday, at the council’s Lawn View House offices.

Charlie estimates that being paid the Living Wage will mean in the region of an extra £80 per month.

He said: “Our children have grown up and we’ve got no mortgage to worry about now but all our money seems to go on bills – the price of gas and electricity has gone through the roof. I also run a car, which has more and more expensive over the last few years.

“It will make a change just to be able to go and fill up the car without worry so much about how much petrol I’m putting in and being able to afford to pay for it. It will also be nice to be able to go out a bit more because we’ve had to cut back in the last few years.

“I think the Living Wage will make a positive difference to everyone on a low wage. I really enjoy my work, it keeps me fit and I get to meet a wide variety of people.”

Other public sector employers in the county, including Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, Mansfield District Council and Bassetlaw District Council have also implemented the Living Wage.

Coun Alan Rhodes, Leader of the council, said that paying the Living Wage to frontline workers providing valued public services was the right thing to do.

He said: “In recent years, Local Government pay has increasingly lagged behind inflation, increasing bills and the rising cost of living.

“As well as making sound business and economic sense, we believe that paying the Living wage is morally the right thing to do. These are frontline workers who provide vital services and it is only right that they earn a fair wage and can have a reasonable standard of living as a result.

“The council is committed to being a good employer. Through leading by example, we hope that more Nottinghamshire employers will follow suit and adopt the Living Wage.”