Councillors vote down bid for real living wage

July 30 2020

AN attempt to get South Gloucestershire Council to adopt the “real living wage” for its staff has failed after an emotional debate.

The council's Labour group tabled a motion seeking the change that would have seen a pay rise for the council’s lowest paid workers.

Instead, the Conservative-led council pledged to consider the real living wage as part of the process for setting next year’s budget.

The Real Living Wage is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation and is currently £9.30 per hour. It is higher than the National Living Wage introduced by the government in 2016, which takes affordability by employers into account and is currently £8.72 per hour for people aged 24 and over and £8.20 per hour for those aged 21 to 24.

At a full council meeting on July 15, Labour Staple Hill and Mangotsfield ward councillor Ian Boulton said adopting the real living wage would mean a pay rise for 161 council and school staff and would cost about £63,000, and would show the council “genuinely values” those staff who “put their lives on the line” during the coronavirus pandemic and who continue to “suffer the indignities of in-work poverty as the echoes of our doorstep applause fade.”

But the Conservative group said the Labour motion was an attempt to “score political points” and would actually cost £1.5m per year.

Council leader Toby Savage said: “I’ll keep on clapping for our staff and when I’m not clapping I’ll keep on working alongside my fellow Conservative members, council officers and our residents to make sure we can afford the most generous pay packages that we can, alongside the important front-line services that residents need.” 

By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service