Bristol elected mayor: Consultants face axe to pay for Living Wage

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

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.”

15 Responses to Bristol elected mayor: Consultants face axe to pay for Living Wage
  1. redlandrider
    September 18, 2012 | 10:16 am

    So when the office junior gets an 18% raise, will the person on the next step who is suddenly paid the same say "Congratulations on getting paid nearly the same as me" or "I want more! I'm only paid the same as the office junior"? Eh?

  2. Corrupt Bstard
    August 29, 2012 | 3:33 pm

    Automated payment transaction tax. Tax all spending, everytime money is spent/transacted/turned over. That’s how tax becomes fair, and can’t be avoided and is a far simpler system to implement.

    Use to it pay everyone a basic needs income.

    As for the usual “inflation” argument; money is a man made phenomenon. If it disappeared over night we would still live. It’d resources that really matter. If they all disappeared overnight, wed all be dead.

    There are enough resources to meet everyone’s basic needs. That’s a fact. If the current monetary system can’t allow that to happen, then simply change the system. It’s insanity not to.

    There’s a man drowning and you have a life belt, but it against the law to throw it. What do you do?

    A. Let him drown

    B. Change the law

    Answers below ;-)

  3. J M
    August 29, 2012 | 1:28 pm

    Last time I heard criticism like Redtrousers is giving was when the Tories attacked Labour's National Minimum Wage Regulations.

    They said the sky would fall in. It didn't. It just gave working classes more money. Business adapted

    • notneoliberal
      September 12, 2012 | 10:27 am

      Yet we have a massive unemployment problem amongst the young and the unskilled now the bubble has burst.

      I really don't think a minimum wage is the way to go on this.

  4. robertjessetelford
    August 29, 2012 | 11:59 am

    It's nice to see that Marvin Rees is following the Green Party lead on this. It's still the case that none of the other candidates have put their policy platform anywhere online.

    • Corrupt Bstard
      August 29, 2012 | 3:23 pm

      I have ;-)

      Corrupt Bstard – Official Electoral Address (which will be sent to all 322,000 Bristolian Residents, in the official Mayoral Electoral Address brochure, sent out by Bristol City Council)

      I will pay every adult resident of Bristol an Unconditional Basic Income of £15,000 every year.

      This will give you the time and the freedom to do stuff just for the love of it.

      If you earn extra money doing this stuff, that’s an added bonus.

      You will recieve this Annual Unconditional Basic Income whether you are working in other paid work, non working or retired.

      I will fund this Annual Unconditional Basic Income by introducing a tax on all spending. A small percentage tax whenever money is turned over, transacted or spent.

      The time has come to eradicate poverty and free the spirit of all Bristolians.

      This is your chance. Seize it!

  5. Henry Hunt
    August 29, 2012 | 11:58 am

    Mr Ferguson appears to believe that an increase of 18% for those on minimum wage will be "extremely inflationary". Meanwhile, over the past decade, chief executives have seen their remuneration increase by 400% but inflation has remained historically low.

    Mr Fergusion is simply repeating the neo-liberal economic policies which insists on wage repression for those at the bottom suppported by maintaining a large pool of unemployed whilst at the same encouraging disproportionate remuneration packages for those at the top.

    Meanwhile, the British economy continues to be outperformed by those such as Germany, France, Holland, etc who pay a higher minimum wage whilst keeping a cap on extortionate executive pay and despite those countries being handicapped by being in the Eurozone!

    Who's really living in the real world?

    • notneoliberal
      September 12, 2012 | 10:25 am

      Sigh. This is actually exactly the problem. Workers' pay is added to the costs and the prices of things are risen appropriately. CEOs just skim whatever comes off the top.

      Far better is it to tax profits to subsidise the poor, allowing small businesses to hire people for less, but still allowing everyone a decent living standard and money in their pockets to spend in businesses and keep the whole cycle going. This is actually closer to how Germany does it.

  6. turningbristolred
    August 29, 2012 | 10:05 am

    George Ferguson criticises Marvin for committing to a Living Wage in Bristol. Saying "it's easier said than done"

    Thus far George Ferguson has committed to renaming the Council House City Hall.

    With thousands of people struggling to pay bills and growing job insecurity it's George's commitment that lacks "understanding of operating in the real world."

    • Progress
      September 5, 2012 | 8:49 am

      This doesn't solve problems for thousands? An example of Marvin following HQ's orders. I've signed up for updates on Rees' campaign and I just receive messages from Jon Cruddas.

      As soon as Marvin shows us the statistics and WHAT he will cut (consultants need to pay bills too) then you can say that he's committed to helping those least off. Until then it's just another 'promise'.

    • turnbristolrational
      September 12, 2012 | 10:20 am

      As an unemployed youth, I dislike you removing the bottom rungs of the ladder for me. I dislike the idea of having to pay even bloody more than the extortionate prices I pay now for everything on my paltry JSA.

      There's better ways of helping the poor than what would seem an obvious fix like raising the wage, which counter-intuitively makes things worse.

  7. Anthony Butcher
    August 29, 2012 | 9:34 am

    According to the Evening Post, BCC is spending 'nearly £1 million' in one-off payments to 550 directly employed staff to bring them up to the 'living wage' standard for this year. Presumably this is the same figure that Mr Rees is using.

    However he also wants all of the sub contractors to implement the living wage salary too… which would add in many more people beyond those 550. Therefore it will cost a LOT more than the £1 million he is budgeting for. This appears to be a very basic accounting error on what is presumably a primary policy statement.

    As much as I dislike the amount of money councils spend on consultants, they do it for a reason – so that they don't have to hire specialised staff full time. If Mr Rees has a better way of providing the advice and work then that's great. If not, BCC will be even more incompetent than many people regard it already.

    It would be interesting to see a detailed list of consultants that he would have done without for this year and and estimate of the impact that would have had upon the council.

    • wood5y
      August 29, 2012 | 10:48 am

      As much as I dislike the amount of money councils spend on consultants, they do it for a reason – so that they don't have to hire specialised staff full time.

      That's a pertinent point, Anthony.

      However, I would also question the quality of the work produced by some outside CONsultants brought in by the City Council. For instance, some years ago, the council commissioned a report on the prospects for renewable energy in the city. Not only was it out of date almost as soon as it was published, but myself and another old hippy from Easton managed to come up with some more innovative ideas by corresponding on a local mailing list. A number of our ideas were ones the so-called professional CONsultants hadn't even managed to consider.

      • Anthony Butcher
        August 29, 2012 | 1:56 pm

        I believe that Mr Ferguson has made it one of his key ideas to make more use of the talents we have available in the city, which includes using people such as yourself. Hopefully that would cut some of the consultancy costs.

        Of course there will always be technical/legal consultancy fees that can't be avoided.

  8. wood5y
    August 29, 2012 | 8:15 am

    Does anyone have any idea how much the council wastes every year on CONsultants?

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