Low-paid handed rise as council spends £8m to tackle poverty
8:51am Friday 22nd February 2013 in News
A PAY rise for Bolton Council’s lowest-paid staff and investment in housing and anti-poverty schemes have been given the go-ahead by councillors.
Bolton’s full council meeting voted to approve this year’s annual budget and council tax rises.
But councillors also approved proposals for wage rises for the authority’s lowest-paid workers and a spending programme aimed at boosting the borough’s economy.
A consultation will now be launched on plans to raise the lowest rate a council worker can be paid from £6.38 to £6.70 an hour.
Bolton Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris said the move was to stop the “erosion” of the gap between the council’s lowest wage and the minimum wage — which is £6.19 an hour.
The council will also invest £8.1 million of capital cash on anti-poverty measures and on moves to stimulate the borough’s economy.
Details of the £1 million anti-poverty investment are yet to be ironed out but The Bolton News understands they could include support for food banks and credit unions.
The council has also set aside £2 million for improving the appearance of private housing which it said will stimulate the economy by providing employment to local firms.
There could be fresh investment for the town centre, with £2 million earmarked for improving the economy, and a £1.5 million investment in sport and leisure facilities. Cllr Morris added: “Over the past few years, the gap which has always existed between the minimum wage and the council’s lowest rate of pay has been eroded.
“By using savings from staff car parking costs, we are able to make improvements to pay levels for our lowest-paid employees.”
During the meeting, Liberal Democrat leader Roger Hayes added: “There are some good things in this budget, I particularly welcome the proposals for capital investment, preparation of an anti-poverty strategy and an increase for our lower-paid employees provided this is really self-financing."
Martin Challender, communications officer at Bolton Unison, said: “It is good news that the council is addressing the issue of low pay.
“This is an issue that joint unions have been raising in discussions with Cllr Morris for some time.
“Within Bolton Council, staff at all levels are feeling the effects of a three-year pay freeze.”
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