Approximately 20 employees of Eastleigh Borough Council are set to benefit from a decision to pay them the Living Wage.
Currently set at £7.45 per hour outside of London, the Living Wage is an hourly rate that is updated on an annual basis, according to the basic cost of living in the UK. It has been supported by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, but is calculated independently of Government.
For employees, the Living Wage compares favourably to the statutory National Minimum Wage of £6.19 per hour. However, it is voluntary and many employers still choose to pay only the statutory minimum.
The Living Wage Foundation and its supporters argue that work is the surest way out of poverty and that paying the Living Wage makes good business sense. Those employers who do see the light, can apply to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer.
Eastleigh Borough Council agreed to implement the Living Wage at a recent Cabinet meeting. In a press release, the Borough Council say;
Councillors approved a recommendation to increase its hourly rate up to a minimum of £7.45. Around 20 members of staff who are currently on Grades 1 and 2 will benefit from the increase the hourly rate of pay which includes cleaners, caterers, cooks and youth workers. As a result of the increase the Council will pay out extra salaries worth around £20-25,000 per year.
Council Leader Keith House said;
“We are doing this by choice as it’s the right thing to do and encourage other employers to follow our lead. The cost is modest but will make a real difference to staff on low hourly rates.”
“Experience in other organisations shows the Living Wage improves staff retention productivity and loyalty too, it is a win win for all.”
Meanwhile, back in Keith House’s fortress Hedge End, the Town Council is taking a different approach.
Currently posted on the Hedge End Town Council website is this appeal for volunteers, to drive a minibus;
The Hedge End appeal for volunteers follows the Towns recent success in winning a £10K grant from Central Government, becoming a Town Team Partner last November, following its earlier unsuccessful bid for Portas money last year.
Hedge End’s innovation was praised by Chris Huhne at the time of the announcement, but the details of the scheme were unclear at the time.
We now know that despite the Town Council winning £10k cash to help get this scheme off the ground, the “innovation” includes recruiting volunteer drivers, who will donate their time to ferry passengers to and from the local shopping centres, so that local businesses can do more trade and make more money.
Eastleigh News asked Mary Portas press office for a comment on the use of volunteers in this way. We are still awaiting a reply…