In an indicative move towards ensuring fair compensation, the Cheshire West and Chester Council is poised to approve an upswing in the local living wage for its workforce. The staffing committee is set to convene next Monday, widely expected to give the green light to an increase from the current £10.90-an-hour to a new rate of £12-an-hour. This adjustment translates to an annual salary of £23,151, showcasing the council’s commitment to guaranteeing that its employees receive wages aligned with the cost of living for themselves and their families.
The Cheshire West and Chester Council implemented the local living wage in April 2016, with the primary aim of ensuring that the workforce is remunerated in a way that accommodates their basic living needs. The proposed increment loosely aligns with the ‘real’ living wage, a benchmark set by the Living Wage Foundation, an advocacy group whose principles organizations voluntarily adopt.
Presently, the national living wage stands at £10.42-an-hour, scheduled to rise to £11.44 in April this year. Originally applicable to those aged 25 and above, its reach expanded in 2021 to include individuals aged 23 and over, with further extensions anticipated to encompass those aged 21 and above by 2024. Workers not eligible for the national living wage must adhere to a national ‘minimum’ wage, varying depending on age.
Cheshire West and Chester Council reviews its local living wage annually, typically mirroring the rate endorsed by the Living Wage Foundation. Commencing at £8.25-an-hour in its inaugural year, the local living wage has experienced incremental increases since then.
Upon the staffing committee’s endorsement, the financial implications of the proposed increase will be subject to thorough examination and approval by the full council as part of the broader budget-setting process. The majority of the council’s workforce falls under the National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services terms and conditions, where pay negotiations typically unfold on an annual basis.
A comprehensive report presented to the committee estimates that the projected local living wage increase would impact around 200 employees, with an expected cost of approximately £31,800 for the fiscal year 2024/25. If approved, the heightened rate is slated to come into effect from April 1, underscoring the council’s commitment to equitable compensation for its workforce.
The report also highlights the potential risk to the council’s reputation should an increase in the local living wage face rejection. Concerns are raised, suggesting that such a decision might elicit discontent among affected employees or prompt objections from trade unions, emphasizing the delicate balance between fiscal responsibility and maintaining a positive organizational image.