Low-paid staff to get £1000 boost as council introduces Living Wage

AROUND 2000 delighted council workers are to see their wages rise by more than £1000 a year due to a fair pay standard being adopted.The Edinburgh City Council employees will benefit from the introduction of the Living Wage in January.

The proposal will see pay set at £7.50 an hour, 5p above the recommended rate and significantly higher than the national minimum wage of £6.19.

It will mean a full-time cook, cleaner or carer on £6.46 with a pension, for example, will increase take-home pay by around £105 per month, or £1270 per annum.

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Workers in the same role without a pension will increase take-home pay by around £110 per month. or £1328 per annum. Those on the minimum £6.19 would see even larger increases.

A large proportion of those affected are women, which unions have welcomed following the announcement yesterday. A final decision will be made by city councillors next month and staff can expect to see the increases from January.

The rise is expected to cost taxpayers £1.4 million, but council leaders have said the amount would be covered by existing funds and would have a significant impact on the lives of employees.

It may also pave the way for other public and private sector organisations to introduce the wage, it was suggested.

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Bill Cook, the city’s deputy finance leader, said: “For me it’s simply a matter of fairness. People should get a decent wage for working.

“It’s a strange logic that claims that it’s essential to give the rich more and the poor less in order for the economy to work. Where in fact, as is widely recognised, a fair wage strategy will undoubtedly stimulate the economy and have a positive effect socially.

“Our workforce is the most important asset we’ve got. It’s absolutely vital that we recognise the contribution they make through their hard work to the welfare of Edinburgh’s people.”

The Living Wage is supported by a number of private and public sector organisations including KPMG and Barclays. Earlier this week the Scottish Government announced that it would be paying the Living Wage to employees working in parts of the public sector.

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John Stevenson, Edinburgh Unison branch president, said the move would help stimulate the local economy. He said: “We have long campaigned for a living wage and made detailed submissions to the council on the benefits it would bring not just for staff, but for Edinburgh’s local economy. All the research shows workers spend any extra money locally, giving a boost to the local shops and businesses.”

He added: “The next step is to campaign for the Edinburgh Living Wage to apply to all contractors and to convince businesses across the city of the benefits of paying their staff a living wage.”

Mike Crockart, the Edinburgh Lib Dem MP who has backed the scheme, said: “The pay increase will help those on the lowest wages and taking into account the coalition government’s rise in the income tax threshold for all basic rate taxpayers people will see a real difference in their take-home pay.”