STAFF at the council-owned adult care company turned up at the town hall this week to get councillors on side in their fight for a two per cent pay rise.

They were lobbying cabinet members to give Bolton Cares sufficient money to fund the pay award outside a meeting on Monday.

This comes as a new pay structure was approved which will see some of the lowest-paid council staff receive a seven per cent pay rise.

All local authority staff who are members of the National Joint Council (NJC) of unions will receive a pay rise of at least two per cent, with the bottom rate of hourly pay rising to £9.

This is in line with the new national hourly rate set by the Living Wage Foundation.

However, although Bolton Cares is wholly-owned by the council, it is a separate limited company which employs its staff directly.

This means the two per cent pay award will not be extended to Bolton Cares staff because the not-for-profit company is responsible for setting pay rises.

Speaking to trade union representative Bernie Gallagher before the cabinet meeting, council leader Linda Thomas said that it would be unfair for her to intervene while negotiations are ongoing between the arms-length company and its employees.

Cllr Ann Cunliffe, who is responsible for commissioning care services, said she is willing to listen to staff but she cannot set their pay.

She added: "I have to say, unfortunately, like all services, it's been severely hit by government cuts. We have been well and truly shafted by government. There's a black hole in adult social care."

Pay for other Bolton Cares employees rose by 1.1 per cent in 2017, 1.5 per cent in 2018 and a further pay increase of 1.5 per cent is proposed for 2019.

The proposed 1.5 per cent pay rise will also apply to the company’s chief executive, John Livesey who is currently earning £107,000.

A spokesman for Bolton Cares said: "We are committed to paying our lowest-paid employees in line with the Living Wage Foundation recommended hourly rate.

"This has meant that pay for our lowest paid employees will have risen by almost nine per cent in the last three years."

The company said its CEO does not receive any bonus payments or benefits that are different from other employees.

The spokesman added: "Bolton Cares understands the difficult financial situation that the council faces and is not asking for extra funding to provide pay awards to match those for local government employees."

Negotiations between Bolton Cares, its employees and trade unions are continuing.