Council wants workers to be paid a living wage to help boost economy

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THE council wants to introduce a living wage to all of its employees and encourage other companies in town to follow suit.

Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said the move would mean workers would be paid at least £7.45 an hour.

The minimum wage is £6.21 an hour for those 21 and over.

Cllr Birch said: “The idea of a living wage is something that the council supports as all our directly employed staff already receive it.

“We have a number of contractors that collect waste and so on and our next step is a discussion with them on whether they would be prepared to sign up to the living wage principle.

“If people in Hastings are better paid, they will spend more money in Hastings businesses and shops. I don’t want Hastings to be known as a low wage economy. I want it to be known as a prosperous one where people are paid better and spend more.”

Cllr Birch said the ideal scenario would be for Hastings to become a living wage town, where everyone gets a minimum of £7.45 an hour.

The living wage is calculated annually by the Living Wage Foundation according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

Campaigners have been trying to persuade employers to pay the hourly rate since 2005.

Brighton and Hove City Council and Gravesham council both introduced the living wage.

Cllr Birch hopes to get Hastings Borough Council accreditation by next April.

But Clive Galbraith, chairman of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce, believes it would be impossible to police as it was not compulsory for employers to pay a living wage.

He said: “I don’t want to come across as the representative of a body of Victorian employers who want to send children down the mines for six pence a week but in an area that’s among the most deprived in the south east and with hundreds of small businesses just coming out of recession the last thing they need is increased overheads and further squeezed margins.

“I don’t want Hastings to be a low-wage economy either I want a well-educated and well-paid town but to roll out something like this beyond the council and say the town is going to be a living wage town, how are you going to police that?”