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By Ian Dipple Thursday 22 November 2012 Updated: 23/11 10:46
COUNCILLORS are investigating whether or not they can afford to raise staff salaries so all workers are earning the living wage.
While Worcestershire County Council staff at the bottom end of the pay scale already earn the legal minimum wage of £6.19 an hour, the Living Wage Foundation estimates people need to earn at least £7.45 to keep them out of poverty.
It is thought at least 175 full-time equivalent posts, including cleaners, clerical assistants, library support staff and care assistants, would benefit from the move, although the figure will rise once school workers such as dinner ladies are factored in.
Early estimates show the plan could cost anywhere between £200,000 and £1million, which poses a problem for the council at a time when it is trying to trim £90million from its budget over the next four years.
Coun Liz Tucker, who proposed the idea at a full council meeting last Thursday (November 15), said: "You can't live decently on the minimum wage and that should be a concern for us.
"I would like to think we can work out the best decision we can take to enable people to live on what we are paying them as a council."
Coun Peter McDonald said it made moral and business sense.
"You can maintain a motivated workforce and not a workforce always looking to go elsewhere."
Councillors supported looking at the idea in more detail but did raise concerns about the cost to the council with Coun David Thain, responsible for transformation and change, suggesting another 635 posts could be affected due to the need to alter pay scales, on top of the 175 identified.
The council's overview and scrutiny committee will now look into the issue before reporting back at a later date.
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