Durham County Council plans Living Wage for low-paid workers

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A COUNCIL’S lowest paid workers could get the living wage under plans by their bosses.

The changes would mean the lowest-paid workers at Durham County Council, such as lunchtime supervisors, caretakers and cleaners, would receive at least £7.43 per hour – 93p more than the National Minimum Wage.

More than 2,500 employees, including 1,800 employees, working in schools across the county, could benefit if the scheme, which would cost £1m a year, is agreed by a meeting of the full council on Wednesday.

The proposals, which would come into effect from January, have been put together by a Living Wage Working Group, set up by the council.

Coun Alan Napier, cabinet member for resources, said: “This scheme is a fair, affordable and sustainable way of introducing a realistic and deliverable living wage.

“We believe its introduction would not only make a significant difference to the lives of our lowest paid employees but would also have knock-on benefits for the authority and wider county.

“Independent research shows that a living wage can reduce absenteeism, and enhances the quality of work produced by staff. Furthermore, as lower paid employees tend to spend a high proportion of their wages with local shops and businesses, there should also be an added benefit to the local economy.”

If members vote to adopt the scheme, it would cost the authority and the county’s schools just over £1m a year. The scheme would be reviewed annually.

Durham County Council meets on Wednesday at County Hall, Durham.