Birmingham to implement Living Wage Initiative

Birmingham City Council are proposing to adopt a scheme which will see some of the city’s lowest paid public sector workers receiving substantial wage increases.

The Living Wage initiative, set up to establish that employees should be paid a sufficient wage to enjoy decent standards in basics such as housing, food, health, transport and recreation, was established in 2000 and since then has been implemented by many public and private sector employees, including Glasgow City Council, the Greater London Authority and Barclays Bank.

Council will debate the initiative on June 1st and if approved, the rise would see the council’s 2,500-plus members of staff paid less than £7.20 per hour elevated to that level with effect from July 1st. A further 500-plus school employees also earn less than the Living Wage, and consultation with head teachers and chairs of governors is being carried out, to secure their support to implement the proposal.

Around 6% of the council’s 50,000-strong workforce will be affected, and of these  88 per cent are women, working in roles such as kitchen assistants, cleaners and domestic assistants, all of which have traditionally been hard posts to recruit for, with a high staff turnover. Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “It is only right that our hardworking employees get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work – and up to now that has not been the case for thousands of staff.

“The Living Wage will make a real improvement to the quality of life for those affected, and research from elsewhere where it has been introduced shows that attendance, motivation and loyalty are all improved along with better recruitment and retention of workers.

The annual cost of the initiative is projected at £990,000, rising to £1.33million in future years, for which the expenditure will be built into the council’s long-term financial planning process. The current minimum hourly rate paid by Birmingham City Council is £6.39.