Sunday 6 January 2013

Brent Council to act on London Living Wage

London Citizens as well as the Green Party have supported a London Living Wage
 A report going before the next Brent Executive recommends the following actions:

That the Executive agrees to the Council seeking Accreditation as a London Living Wage Employer.

That the Executive agrees to the take positive steps to review its existing contracts over a three year period on a case by case basis to wherever possible apply LLW criteria.

That Social Care  contracts are examined with the London Living Wage Foundation and other LLW Boroughs to explore the application of LLW.

That the Executive agrees that Officers should act to promote the application of the LLW to schools, businesses and other organisations within Brent.

The Executive agrees that subject to Finance, Procurement and Legal advice officers seek to apply the LLW consideration when tendering
A further recommendation states:
That Members note the comments of the Deputy Director of Finance regarding the potential cost of applying LLW.
A dispute between Muhammed Butt and Gareth Daniel over the affordability of  paying the London Living Wage is widely believed to have contributed to the latter's demise.   Directly employed Brent staff and agency workers employed by the Council will all be on the London Living Wage by October this year. Problems arise over out-sourced staff such as social carers and those employed by schools.

Governing bodies, rather than the council, make school employment decisions so the council will seek to influence schools rather than direct them. Potential legal difficulties are also likely in terms of the council's duty to seek 'best value' in terms of procurement and they would need to demonstrate that paying the London Living Wage would enhance the service. This might be an issue in the huge public realm contract that was advertised before Christmas covering waste collection recycling  street cleaning and parks maintenance. The sole award criteria is 'the most economic tender' which suggests low wages LINK

The report makes a persuasive case for paying the London Living Wage which has been a campaigning aim of the Green Party since its inception in 2005 but which in 2011 was only paid by a handful of London Councils. The Green Party also supports a national living wage.
Income is one of the key determinants of building in individual and community resilience to these unprecedented economic circumstances. Brent is described as a ‘low income’ Borough and its’ patterns of occupations have been in sectors where pay is lower than average. By signing up to the London Living Wage the Council can by its actions show commitment and Leadership to lift the incomes of both its residents and people who work for it.

The main benefits which have been so far experienced by both Public and Private Sectors in applying the London Living Wage have been:
• lower staff turnover
• improved productivity
• lower sickness absence

In addition by applying and extending London Living Wage the Council would be in a position to help encourage employers who pay low wages to set a minimum pay rate that enables employees to provide the essentials of life. It will also fit squarely with the Councils vision and values and promote the recruitment and retention of a high quality workforce to deliver for the Council and its Communities.
I welcome the Council's move but regret that this is in the context of  the overall cuts in council jobs (with more to come) and the imposition of flexible working on council staff.

For doubters about the efficacy of the policy this report from the BBC may help change your mind. It is argued that paying the Living Wage could actually save £2bn: LINK

No comments: