A rise in the local living wage paid to Cheshire West and Chester Council workers looks set to be backed by council chiefs.

The authority’s staffing committee meets next Monday where it is expected to back an increase in the amount it pays to eligible staff from a minimum of £10.90-an-hour, to £12-an-hour. The figure would equate to an annual salary of £23,151.

Cheshire West and Chester Council first introduced a local living wage in April, 2016. The council said the purpose was to 'ensure staff earned what they and their families needed to live'.

The figure loosely mirrors something called the ‘real’ living wage, which itself differs from the ‘national’ living wage set by government. The real living wage is set by campaign group the Living Wage Foundation and only adopted by organisations on a voluntary basis.

The current rate for the national living wage is £10.42-an-hour, which will increase to £11.44 April this year.  Initially, the national living wage was applied to all employees who were aged 25 and over, but the age range was extended in 2021 to apply to all employees aged 23 and over and will be further extended to age 21 and over by 2024.

Workers not eligible for the national living wage must be paid at least a national 'minimum' wage, which varies dependant on age.

The Cheshire West and Chester local living wage is reviewed every year and has historically followed the rate set by the Living Wage Foundation. In its first year it was £8.25-an-hour, but has risen every year since.

Once approved by the staffing committee, the additional budget required is subject to approval by full council as part of the authority's budget setting process.

The majority of Cheshire West and Chester Council staff are
covered by the National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Government Services
terms and conditions. The NJC negotiate pay for the local government
workforce typically on an annual basis.

A report to the committee said a local living wage increase would impact on approximately 200 employees, and that the cost of the increase for 2024/25 is anticipated to be around £31,800. The rise would come into effect from April 1.

The report said: "There is a risk to the council’s reputation by not agreeing an increase in the local living wage, which could be raised by employees affected or from trade unions."