Sandwell Council will enhance pay to the voluntary living wage rate for 150 council employees and 650 school staff.
The pay increase, which will be effective from April 2018 and apply to staff currently on pay band A and the lower increments of pay band B, will see cleaners, learning support assistants, playworkers, nursery staff and school crossing wardens receive a pay rise of between 6% and 8%.
Sandwell Council, which confirmed the pay rise on 18 October 2017, predicts the pay increase will cost approximately £1 million over three years.
The living wage is an independently set hourly rate of pay that is calculated according to the basic costs of living. Employers pay the living wage on a voluntary basis, and the rate is updated annually. The living wage is currently set at £8.45 an hour for employees working across the UK, and at £9.75 an hour for staff based in London. The higher London living wage reflects the increased living costs associated with residing in the capital.
The voluntary living wage is distinct from the statutory national minimum wage, which is paid to employees aged 25 and over. The national minimum wage rate is currently set at £7.50 an hour.
Councillor Steve Trow, cabinet member for core council services at Sandwell Council, said: “This is going to make a significant difference to many people. With the cost of living rising, it’s people on the lowest wages who feel the pinch the hardest. By committing to paying the living wage, we’ll be directly improving the standard of living for hundreds of people working for the council and in our schools.”
A spokesperson at trade union Unite added: “This will put money in the pockets of low paid [employees] making a real difference to the lives of hundred of [employees] and their families. The council should be commended for taking this important step towards full living wage accreditation.”