ONE in five Wigan Council workers are paid below the living hourly wage rate, it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has found that last year 1,176 (20.7 per cent) of the authority’s staff were paid less than £7.20 an hour – the minimum amount deemed necessary to cover costs such as housing, food and utilities for themselves and their family. In the first six months of this year, this had been reduced to 565 (11.79 per cent).
The living wage rate, worked out by the Living Wage Unit, is far higher than the UK’s national minimum wage of £6.08 an hour for adults and £4.98 for 18-to 21-year-olds.
Wigan Council’s Director of Corporate Services Paul McKevitt said: “The pay and terms and conditions of employment for local government workers are set out by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services. These are the result of negotiations between trade unions and Local Government Employers. Wigan Council abides by these nationally agreed pay grades.
“There are a number of reasons the figures for the number of people being paid less than £7.20 has fallen over the past six months. Some employees received their annual pay increment which has taken them above this rate. Other employers have left the council’s employment and now work for outside providers, whilst others have left under the council’s Voluntary Redundancy Scheme.”
However, many believe employment skills training and he benefits system is the way to help regain confidence and prosperity in local economies.
Matthew Sinclair, Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The best way to improve the prospects of people on low incomes is by boosting their skills and building a stronger economy with more opportunities for everyone. But to the extent we want to redistribute income to them now we should use the benefits system rather than creating minimum incomes that might be satisfying but will result in more people languishing out of work.”