Oxfordshire County Council urged to adopt living wage

Councillor Roy Darke

Councillor Roy Darke

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

COUNTY councillors have been urged to follow their Town Hall counterparts in Oxford by introducing a “living wage” for staff.

At £7.45 per hour, the living wage is higher than the national minimum wage, currently £6.19, and is calculated based on the cost of living in a specific area of the country.

At the moment, Oxford City Council is the only local authority in Oxfordshire which has been given a living wage accreditation by paying its employees at least £8.01 an hour.

On Wednesday the issue was considered by the county council’s remunerations committee.

Committee member Roy Darke, a Labour county councillor, said: “For me it is an important matter of principle and you can see that in the fact that the city council has introduced it not only for its own staff but also for its contractors.

“The issue is that there are some incredibly big contracts which the county council has in relation to providing social care, with staff who are on low wages.

“But it ought to be seriously considered. The cost of living in Oxford and Oxfordshire is high compared to the rest of the country, so there is some importance in having this debate.”

After discussing the issue, the remunerations committee instructed council officers to carry out research into the issue and report back to them.

One of the issues raised was how the living wage would work with academy schools, which are independent of the county council.

Committee chairman Ian Hudspeth, who is also the leader of the county council, expressed concern about what would happen as more schools became academies and so out of reach of any potential living wage policy.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “We have got to find out the full details and how it would affect the council.

“Once we have got those details we can make a more considered view about whether we are in a position to implement it, bearing in mind it is taxpayers’ money.”

The discussions have been welcomed by the Living Wage Foundation. Communications officer Sarah Vero said: “We welcome the news that Oxfordshire County Council is considering the living wage.

“The living wage is a useful tool for councils to help tackle in-work poverty and it offers a range of business benefits including reduced absenteeism, lower turnover of staff and increased productivity.

“The living wage enjoys cross-party support, with backing from senior Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith, as well as Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.”

Unison senior branch officer Barbara Harper said the union was “in discussion” with the authority about the potential introduction of the benchmark.

She said: “We would view anything favourable on the subject of the living wage as a good thing, and we’re talking to Oxfordshire County Council about it.”

The city council’s leader Bob Price, who recently celebrated his authority’s receipt of official living wage accreditation, was “delighted” the county council was considering its introduction.

He said: “We need to make sure workers in low-paid jobs are not put at a disadvantage by the fact they live in a high-cost area.”

Comments (9)

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10:21pm Fri 30 Nov 12

carfax cabby ox1 says...

for 60 hours last week I ended up with £210 after fuel, cab payment, etc. And the council will not even allow us a 20 pence rise as it is too much. Yet they are over the moon to use my tax money to pay their staff a minimum of £8.01 a hour. If Mr Price was running a business and having to pay wages out of his own pocket, I wonder how eager he would be to pay his most menial staff even the minimum wage, let alone £8.01. One rule for some, and another for us that pay for them.
for 60 hours last week I ended up with £210 after fuel, cab payment, etc. And the council will not even allow us a 20 pence rise as it is too much. Yet they are over the moon to use my tax money to pay their staff a minimum of £8.01 a hour. If Mr Price was running a business and having to pay wages out of his own pocket, I wonder how eager he would be to pay his most menial staff even the minimum wage, let alone £8.01. One rule for some, and another for us that pay for them. carfax cabby ox1
  • Score: 0

10:52pm Fri 30 Nov 12

SteveOX4 says...

Oh no not this again. City/County council are the least deserving of a high wage, especially at taxpayers expense. People working crappy jobs earning the minimum wage deserve it more.
Oh no not this again. City/County council are the least deserving of a high wage, especially at taxpayers expense. People working crappy jobs earning the minimum wage deserve it more. SteveOX4
  • Score: 0

11:13pm Fri 30 Nov 12

Myron Blatz says...

Well you see, 'Carfax Cabby' the Labour-led Oxford City Council can afford to be 'generous' in payment of a so-called 'Living Wage' because it uses Public Money to do so - and in effect, it is the Council Tax Payers and people across Oxford who actually pay - not Cllr 'Robin Hood' Price. It also has the added 'bonus pay-back' for Labour at the ballot box, when Voters will remember that Labour City Councillors were so very generous with everyone else's money - just like good old Tony Blair and Gordon Brown used to be, before they left the UK virtually bankrupt! It is also somewhat ironic that whilst increasing the hourly rate paid to its employees, City Council continues it mission (launched long before the Coalition Government arrived) to slim-down its own work-force to the point where currently, only about five people (from around 20?) are left from what used to be known as its team of 'Housing Managers' for its 8,000-plus Tenants - though City Council maintains that effectiveness has not been compromised by restructuring. Fact remains that if City Council is paying almost £2 per-hour over the National Minimum Wage, someone must be paying for this - and, has to be said, Cllr Price, that if a self-employed electrician, plumber or other professional was to charge £2 more than a competitor, they would soon 'price themselves' out of the market and go bankrupt! One can only assume that Oxford City Council's very own CEO must be working unimaginable hours every week, if he's also on £8.01 per-hour.
Well you see, 'Carfax Cabby' the Labour-led Oxford City Council can afford to be 'generous' in payment of a so-called 'Living Wage' because it uses Public Money to do so - and in effect, it is the Council Tax Payers and people across Oxford who actually pay - not Cllr 'Robin Hood' Price. It also has the added 'bonus pay-back' for Labour at the ballot box, when Voters will remember that Labour City Councillors were so very generous with everyone else's money - just like good old Tony Blair and Gordon Brown used to be, before they left the UK virtually bankrupt! It is also somewhat ironic that whilst increasing the hourly rate paid to its employees, City Council continues it mission (launched long before the Coalition Government arrived) to slim-down its own work-force to the point where currently, only about five people (from around 20?) are left from what used to be known as its team of 'Housing Managers' for its 8,000-plus Tenants - though City Council maintains that effectiveness has not been compromised by restructuring. Fact remains that if City Council is paying almost £2 per-hour over the National Minimum Wage, someone must be paying for this - and, has to be said, Cllr Price, that if a self-employed electrician, plumber or other professional was to charge £2 more than a competitor, they would soon 'price themselves' out of the market and go bankrupt! One can only assume that Oxford City Council's very own CEO must be working unimaginable hours every week, if he's also on £8.01 per-hour. Myron Blatz
  • Score: 0

7:00pm Sun 2 Dec 12

Pavinder Msvarensy says...

Steve 0x4, nobody is singling out the council, but everybody deserves the same wage for the same grade of job, so why is a private sector lowest grade earner on minimum wage, and a council worker (who we pay for) on the lowest grade getting over £300 a month more for the same work? Shall I answer that for you. Because the council do not pay the wages unlike an employer, I do, and when the council want more money, they make ME pay for it. If Bob Price et-al ran a business like they do our city then they would be bust.
Steve 0x4, nobody is singling out the council, but everybody deserves the same wage for the same grade of job, so why is a private sector lowest grade earner on minimum wage, and a council worker (who we pay for) on the lowest grade getting over £300 a month more for the same work? Shall I answer that for you. Because the council do not pay the wages unlike an employer, I do, and when the council want more money, they make ME pay for it. If Bob Price et-al ran a business like they do our city then they would be bust. Pavinder Msvarensy
  • Score: 0

12:46pm Mon 3 Dec 12

King Joke says...

Choking off the disposable income of the lowest earners in our economy is killing it - without the money in their pockets they are unable to spend in shops and keep the economy going.

The least we can do is pay a living wage, and it's important the public sector take a lead, because the private sector will always find an excuse not to bother.
Choking off the disposable income of the lowest earners in our economy is killing it - without the money in their pockets they are unable to spend in shops and keep the economy going. The least we can do is pay a living wage, and it's important the public sector take a lead, because the private sector will always find an excuse not to bother. King Joke
  • Score: 0

5:33pm Mon 3 Dec 12

carfax cabby ox1 says...

Mr Joke, can you answer me, what right do the council have denying me the minimum wage, whilst taking my money to pay well over the odds for menial staff with no qualifications. In the last 3 years a one stage bus ride has risen over 50% whereas a taxi ride To Barton or The Leys has risen 1.5%, or to summertown 2.3% and to Abingdon a massive 0.1%. Fuel costs alone have risen over 40% in that time, so every journey that I make I am doing on average £1 cheaper than 3 years ago. We have the most stringent taxi regulations in the UK the most expensive licences, and council charges, yet are in the bottom ten for fares. These same people that say they are proud to pay the living wage, say no to even a 5% increase for the 3 years, and not even a 1% increase. So the next time you get in a cab and the driver is not jumping with joy when you tell him your destination. and doesn't talk to you at all except to ask for the few pence at the end of the journey, that is the reason why. You sit on the station for an hour and get a job to the Randolph £3.65 like earlier today when my customer gave me a £50 note and graciously told me to "take £4" what an insult, but being me I said thank you very much ripped the note in half, and half again (accidentally of course) gave it back to them, saying may you be very happy together, and added have the ride on me. That is not a tip it is an insult when you are going to give the porter a fiver just for taking your bags into reception. I may have lost £4, but it was worth it to see their faces looking at their precious money as I drove away.
Mr Joke, can you answer me, what right do the council have denying me the minimum wage, whilst taking my money to pay well over the odds for menial staff with no qualifications. In the last 3 years a one stage bus ride has risen over 50% whereas a taxi ride To Barton or The Leys has risen 1.5%, or to summertown 2.3% and to Abingdon a massive 0.1%. Fuel costs alone have risen over 40% in that time, so every journey that I make I am doing on average £1 cheaper than 3 years ago. We have the most stringent taxi regulations in the UK the most expensive licences, and council charges, yet are in the bottom ten for fares. These same people that say they are proud to pay the living wage, say no to even a 5% increase for the 3 years, and not even a 1% increase. So the next time you get in a cab and the driver is not jumping with joy when you tell him your destination. and doesn't talk to you at all except to ask for the few pence at the end of the journey, that is the reason why. You sit on the station for an hour and get a job to the Randolph £3.65 like earlier today when my customer gave me a £50 note and graciously told me to "take £4" what an insult, but being me I said thank you very much ripped the note in half, and half again (accidentally of course) gave it back to them, saying may you be very happy together, and added have the ride on me. That is not a tip it is an insult when you are going to give the porter a fiver just for taking your bags into reception. I may have lost £4, but it was worth it to see their faces looking at their precious money as I drove away. carfax cabby ox1
  • Score: 0

8:32am Tue 4 Dec 12

King Joke says...

I don't disagree Cabby - I think you deserve a living wage like the rest of them. That you resent other workers being able to afford basic amenities just shows how successful the 'divide and conquer' policies of successive governments with respect to working people have been.
I don't disagree Cabby - I think you deserve a living wage like the rest of them. That you resent other workers being able to afford basic amenities just shows how successful the 'divide and conquer' policies of successive governments with respect to working people have been. King Joke
  • Score: 0

5:39pm Tue 4 Dec 12

carfax cabby ox1 says...

King joke. I do not resent anyother persons wages, they are worth what they are paid, what I DO RESENT is, the same council denying me the minimum, let alone a living wage, while proclaiming to be so proud of what they pay their workers. As I said 3 years ago after just fuel (not including insurance that has doubled, council fees rise way above inflation, and garage bills) on a £9.70 job I was left with £7.60 now that job is £9.85 and I am left with £6.95, factor in the costs in brackets and it is far less. How can the council expect a profession taxi service on that? Well the truth is, that they are no longer getting one, and they are to blame.
King joke. I do not resent anyother persons wages, they are worth what they are paid, what I DO RESENT is, the same council denying me the minimum, let alone a living wage, while proclaiming to be so proud of what they pay their workers. As I said 3 years ago after just fuel (not including insurance that has doubled, council fees rise way above inflation, and garage bills) on a £9.70 job I was left with £7.60 now that job is £9.85 and I am left with £6.95, factor in the costs in brackets and it is far less. How can the council expect a profession taxi service on that? Well the truth is, that they are no longer getting one, and they are to blame. carfax cabby ox1
  • Score: 0

6:41pm Tue 4 Dec 12

King Joke says...

Again I agree, taxi fares should go up to reflect your input costs.
Again I agree, taxi fares should go up to reflect your input costs. King Joke
  • Score: 0

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