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Denbighshire councillors voted to give authority’s lowest paid staff backdated pay rise

DENBIGHSHIRE councillors have voted to give the authority’s lowest paid staff a backdated pay rise of 5p-an-hour to reach last year’s Real Living Wage.

The move was made at Tuesday’s full council meeting where members discussed trying to attain the Real Living Wage for employees on the lowest pay scale.

Cllr Glenn Swingler (Denbigh Upper/Henllan ward) reminded members the council had been looking at this issue since 2017.

He added: “We are talking about the social care aspect of that. These are our frontline workers and they have been working really hard in dangerous situations over the last year or so.

“To be giving them a Real Living Wage should be something we are really aiming for.

“What I have not seen yet is a road map to we do become a living wage employer. We just keep getting told we can’t afford it this year.”

The National Living Wage (NLM), set by the Low Pay Commission, currently stands at £8.72, rising to £8.91 from this April 1. UK Government had previously pledged to increase the NLW to £9 an hour by 2020.

The voluntary Real Living Wage (RLW) is a different measure devised by the Living Wage Foundation and Loughborough University’s Centre for Research, designed to set a basic amount that would allow people on low salaries to meet their commitments.

Last April it stood at £9.30 per hour but increased in November to £9.50, with bodies who wished to be compliant having six months to implement it.

The recommendation before the council was to note the cost implications before members but Cllr Graham Timms suggested an amendment guaranteeing council staff on the lowest pay scale (£9.25 per hour) a rise of 5p per hour, backdated to last April, to comply with last year’s RLW.

He also asked for the RLW of £9.50 to be applied from this April for council staff on the lowest pay scales.

Finally, Cllr Timms (Llangollen ward) asked for a report from the lead member for finance to come to council with a road map of when the authority would become an accredited Real Living Wage employer.

Cllr Timms said it would equate to approximately a £100 rise for a full-time employee and cost the council somewhere in the region of £17,500 plus consequential costs.

To raise the lowest paid up to the latest RLW in April would cost around £37,000 over the coming year, against a council wage bill of £106m per year.

He said: “It’s a really important issue for our lowest paid staff. We have talked about it for three years.

“It would be around £100 a-year. It doesn’t seem a lot but to the people receiving it it’s not a small amount, it’s a matter of being able to afford or not afford a decent life.”

There followed an in-depth discussion with officers about how paying £9.50 an hour to the lowest paid staff could have implications for those on the next pay grade up and could impact on equal pay policies.

Councillors finally agreed to Cllr Timms’ compromise of awarding the lowest paid employees the 5p an hour rise now, backdated to last April, and getting the lead member for finance to write a report on the implications of adopting the RLW.

Within that there will be a road map showing when the council intends to implement the policy – but that would come before members only after Welsh Government had announced this year’s pay award, so the implications would be fully understood.

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