BOLTON Council’s poorest paid staff will receive a pay rise as town hall bosses approved spending more than £400,000 on boosting about 1,200 employees’ salaries.

The hourly rate for cleaners, events staff, social care assistants and more will go up from £6.69 to £7.22, if a national pay increase of one per cent for local authority staff is accepted.

It brings the rate of grade 1 pay closer to the so-called “living wage” of £7.65, based on the amount an individual needs to earn to afford the basic costs of living.

The legal minimum wage is currently £6.31 for adults.

The bottom grade 2 hourly wage of £7.26 will also go up to more than the living wage, at £7.71.

It is the second year running that the Labour-majority Bolton Council has introduced the policy, and leader Cllr Cliff Morris said the move would be funded following a £1 million reduction in the Transport for Greater Manchester levy.

He said: “We felt that because council staff hadn’t had an increase for three years, we should really do as much as we possibly can to give them a boost.

“This is the second year running we have increased the pay of our lowest paid staff — and in fact our lowest paid are nearly up to a living wage.

“We should be aiming for everyone to be on the living wage, and that will be a goal.”

An extra national one per cent pay increase — factored into the council’s budget — is the focus of a union strike ballot, as campaigners argue it is not enough for a sector which has suffered years of freezes.

Public services union Unison’s industrial action ballot is set to start on May 23.

But Bolton Unison spokesman Martin Chall-ender said while the one per cent increase was part of a national pay dispute, it welcomed this move to help the council’s poorest employees.

He added: “We welcome any efforts by the council to increase the pay of the lowest paid. It’s a step in the right direction and we’re glad that the council has taken action to address the issue of low pay.

“The benefits as far as we’re concerned in offering better rates of pay is that it helps the local economy — the town’s shops, businesses and the economy of the town as a whole — if the lowest paid receive more.”

Sean Harriss, Bolton Council chief executive, said 800 staff will see an immediate increase while 400 people will receive more money as the year goes on.

He added: “The council is pleased to be able to recognise the importance of improving pay for our lowest paid workers, and this has proved possible in a tight financial situation.”