West Suffolk: Living Wage pledge as vote on single pay structure looms

West Suffolk House in Bury, the Council Public Services Village.

West Suffolk House in Bury, the Council Public Services Village. - Credit: Archant

LOWEST paid workers at west Suffolk councils will receive the National Living Wage if a new pay structure is agreed.

The measure is included in a single pay and reward strategy across Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which is due to be voted on next week.

If a decision by Forest Heath councillors on May 8 is matched in St Edmundsbury on May 16, the package could be adopted by June 1.

The pay line, an effort to save hundreds of thousands of pounds, will mean about 15% of the workforce will see their salary drop as they come in line with counterparts on the other authority.

Due to salary protection that reduction will not come into effect until March 2015.


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However, a further 23% of staff will have a pay increase, which will start from June.

As part of negotiations with Unison the West Suffolk councils have agreed that all employees on contracts of employment will not be paid less than the National Living Wage of £7.45 per hour, £14,373 per annum.

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But council documents state the wage will only be paid after six months employment and the completion of a satisfactory probation period.

The EADT reported that Ipswich Borough Council signed up to the Living Wage in March.

Sarah Vero, of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “We hope that more councils in East Anglia will soon follow suit. Councils that ensure both directly employed and contracted staff receive the Living Wage set an example of best practice for other employers.

“The growing number of employers who pay the Living Wage understand that it’s not just good for workers, it’s also good for business and the local economy.”

She added: “That little bit extra makes a big difference, first it goes into the pockets of low paid staff and then straight back into local businesses.”

Ian Gallin, Joint CEO of St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils said: “We are creating a shared staffing structure to work across all of West Suffolk, supporting both Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury, and part of that process is to have a single, modernised pay and reward strategy.”

Stephen Edwards, Forest Heath Cabinet member for resources, said: “This is about making sure that staff who work alongside each other, doing the same job in the same team are working to the same terms and conditions and receive the same pay as their colleagues.”

Cllr Dave Ray, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for resources, added that “getting a single pay line into place is an essential part of creating a single staff structure”.

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