Local Lib Dem councillors have successfully amended the Harrogate Borough Council budget to include the introduction of a minimum living wage of £9.50 per hour for all council employees, as calculated by the Living Wage Foundation.
The amendment was put forward by Councillor Philip Broadbank after the Lib Dem group were horrified to learn that the budget allowed for some council employees to potentially work on ‘poverty pay’.
The issue was raised after the group were informed that a local council worker was having to resort to a food bank as his council wage did not allow him to put enough food on the table for his family.
During the meeting, one Conservative councillor’s reaction to the amendment – validated by an independent council officer – was to state that he “feared socialist principles” may find their way into Harrogate; an odd statement to make regarding the wages of his council’s lowest paid workers.
In her speech, Leader of the Lib Dem group on Harrogate Borough Council, Pat Marsh, said:
Mr Mayor, we cannot allow our essential workers, who are being paid a minimum wage, to rely on Universal Credit, this issue should have already been addressed.
The delay is causing harm to the very people who keep us safe, it is morally wrong to allow this to continue.
After the amendment was passed, Councillor Chris Aldred stated:
If we had not put this forward tonight, the budget would not have addressed the circumstances of some of our lowest paid workers who have continued to work throughout the pandemic.
These people have gone above and beyond during these difficult times and were not recognised in the budget until our amendment was proposed.
It’s wrong that the council have not been paying its own staff the minimum living wage over the last year.
Our fight does not stop here, we will do all that we can to get the independently calculated Living Wage Foundation rate implemented by the council.
After the amendment was passed, the budget subsequently secured support from a majority of councillors.