20 per cent pay rise plan for Doncaster council staff

Doncaster's  Civic Offices.
Doncaster's Civic Offices.

Hundreds of Doncaster Council staff could receive a significant pay rise next year - despite plans for £109 million in cuts.

Mayor Ros Jones says she has asked officers to work out the cost of bringing in the so-called living wage for its lowest paid staff, with an eye on introducing it next year.

It would take the lowest rate of pay at the authority to £7.65, compared to the current minimum wage of £6.31 for anyone aged over 21.

It would represent a potential pay rise of more than 21 per cent.

She revealed the plans after Prime Minister David Cameron criticised the Labour-run Doncaster Council for not having brought in the living wage, while some Conservative councils in London have brought it in.

Ms Jones said: “I have always said I am committed to the council being a good employer and I’ve asked officers to work out what a living wage would cost to bring in.

“I think it will stimulate the economy.

“I believe we should be good employers, even with the cuts which have been imposed upon us.

“We will be looking to see what we can do to bring it about.”

She said the costings would be done for next year, but could not be done this year as the current budget was already in place, and was set during the previous mayor Peter Davies’ time in office.

The living wage is already paid by Sheffield and Barnsley councils.

Prime Minister Mr Cameron criticised Doncaster during question time when asked about low pay.

He said: “The fact is there are more people at work in our economy than ever before, two thirds of those jobs have been full-time jobs, and while we are on the subject of pay, perhaps it is a good moment to recognise that Labour-controlled Doncaster does not pay the living wage, whereas Conservative-controlled London does.”

Ms Jones said it was wrong to compare Doncaster with London, as the borough had 60 per cent band A housing, and the north of England had been hit harder by cuts than the south.

Unions are concerned there are staff at Doncaster Council who currently do not have enough to live on, and are keen to work with the council to bring the new pay arrangements in.

Unison area organiser for Doncaster, Steve Ball, said: “Unison has been campaigning for the living wage, as it is something as a union we believe everyone needs to earn in order to be able to live.

“We have members in Doncaster who are falling quite short of that and it’s starting to affect them badly with the cost of living rising.

“We’re trying to work as hard as possible to make sure it is brought in as soon as possible.”

The plans come at a time when the council is warning it may have to axe 1,200 jobs and close care homes to meet budget cuts, as well as looking to increase Council Tax for the first time in four years.