Consultants hired by Bristol City Council will face the axe to pay for Labour’s planned wage rises for the city’s lowest-paid council staff.
Marvin Rees, the party’s candidate for elected mayor yesterday announced plans to raise wage levels of all council staff to a minimum of £7.20 an hour.
Mr Rees said one of his first priorities if elected would be to make Bristol a ‘Living Wage city’. Initially, all council staff earning less than £7.20 an hour – considered to be enough to provide for the basic cost of living in the UK – would see their pay rise.
He said that as every council contract is re-tendered, a requirement for businesses to pay the Living Wage to their staff would be included.
A spokesman for Mr Rees told Bristol24-7 that the plan – expected to cost the city around £1million – would be funded by removing “non-service” costs (those not used to fund services used by the public).
He added that high-paid consultants, used to advise the administration on various policy areas, would be targeted.
Mr Rees’ plan echoes that announced in Scotland last week. Campaign groups have joined with Scottish Labour to demand people working for private firms which have public sector contracts are paid the living wage of £7.20 an hour.
Scottish Labour MSP John Park is launching a consultation on a Living Wage (Scotland) Bill in a bid to include a clause requiring the private contractors to pay the living wage.
Last night, independent candidate George Ferguson refused to commit to matching the pledge, saying such a policy was “easier said than implemented” and reflected a lack of “understanding of operating in the real world”.
“Of course everyone would like to be paid more but this is much more easily said than implemented, especially in these stringent times,” he told Bristol24-7.
“However there are very good reasons why the last Labour administration did not implement such a policy when they had the opportunity to do so:
“Firstly, at over 18% increase from the minimum wage for 21s and over they would have been advised that it would be extremely inflationary and would be paid for by us the tax payers year on year. Secondly, they would have been advised that it would result in lost jobs and services. Thirdly, if there are some unnecessary consultants and ‘non-service’ costs, they should have been got rid of in any case.
“I regret this sounds like an example of a lack of understanding of operating in the real world.
“I am not going to commit Bristol’s tax payers to a policy that needs far more consideration, although I would be carrying out a thorough review of Council employment conditions and pay and ensure that people are paid fairly for the work they do, and that as tax payers we obtain the very best value for council services.”