A call for West Northamptonshire Council to commit to becoming a Living Wage employer to help tackle the problems of low pay has been voted down.
Councillor Emma Roberts proposed a motion which was heard at last Thursday's full council meeting (July 15).
The member for Delapre and Rushmere called for the new authority to sign up for Living Wage Foundation Accreditation.
The motion, which was not carried during a vote at the meeting, stated that foodbanks in West Northants have seen their usage rise three fold as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In response, the council's cabinet member for finance, councillor Malcolm Longley stated the motion "is a little premature in the context of this year's budget but is a good case to be referred to the anti-poverty group as one of the proposals for consideration."
The motion asked the council to:
-To commit to becoming a Living Wage Employer and seek Living Wage Foundation Accreditation
-To ensure all directly employed staff are paid at least the real Living Wage
-To enquire with the Living Wage Foundation to begin process and receive guidance
-To nominate an individual to be lead officer on the real Living Wage to liaise with the Living Wage Foundation and document progress
-To initiate an internal working group to plan and manage the Living Wage on an ongoing basis
-To identify all relevant contracts that need the Living Wage embedded with target dates for implementation
-To build Living Wage into all terms and conditions, pre-qualification questionnaires and future supplier communications
-To plan how this will be managed and reported annually to the Living Wage Foundation
-To report on the plan with dates for implementation at the council’s AGM
Addressing the council ahead of the vote, Cllr Roberts, said: “An appropriate living wage is a step to ending hunger. It's proven to improve health and well-being, life chances and access to support.
“Thousands of struggling families have already been lifted out of poverty with the implementation of the real Living Wage in other local authorities and other employers across the country.
“The importance of individuals earning enough money to meet the needs of themselves and their families should be right at the heart of our anti-poverty strategy.
“We've said we want an anti-poverty strategy. We've committed to that. And this stamps that commitment full and firmly at the forefront of anti-poverty working in West Northamptonshire.”
Cllr Longley said: “I am always and will be supportive of any properly funded initiative that improves the lot of our employees. I repeat, 'properly funded.'
“I am therefore of the view that this motion is a little premature in the context of this year's budget but is a good case to be referred to the anti-poverty group as one of the proposals for consideration.
“From there, considerations should be included in the budget setting process in the medium term financial plan.”
A statement issued after the meeting, Cllr Roberts, read: "Gutted and frustrated is an understatement.
"We had an opportunity to place a great big stamp on our commitment to ending poverty."