The ‘Wood & Vale’ reports;
“Westminster Council says it cannot afford to pay some of its poorest workers the London Living Wage despite opponents claiming it could help tackle poverty in the borough.
The council’s claim comes after rival politicians tabled a motion for a meeting next week, which calls on Westminster to become a LLW borough and ensure all staff are paid at least £8.80-per-hour.
Directly-employed staff already receive the same, or higher, but this is not the case for sub-contracted workers such as bin men and cleaners – some of who could earn as low as the national minimum wage of £6.31-per-hour.
This means a person working a 37.5 hour week will earn just £12,304.50 a year before tax but on the LLW this rises to £17,160.
The scheme is backed by Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson, but – unlike neighbouring Camden Council – Westminster is not currently a London Living Wage borough despite being among the wealthiest.
Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg has tabled a motion which calls on the council to pay the LLW for all staff – including those sub-contracted – from the 2014/15 financial year.
The Queen’s Park councillor said: “If the council is serious about helping people and fighting poverty, then I see no reason why they will not sign up.
“Westminster is one of the richest local authorities not just in London but in the whole country and they can afford to ensure all workers – especially those not directly employed by them, get this rate of pay.
“I’m not quite sure it sends out the right message if they do not sign up to this and if the rate of pay is not adopted, then the taxpayer will foot the bill through benefits.
“It cannot be right that Westminster might allow bad employers to be subsidised by the public purse.”
The debate will take place on Wednesday, November 13, and comes a year after the Westminster Labour group ran an unsuccessful campaign aimed at getting the council to sign up.
A spokesman for Westminster Council confirmed a motion regarding paying staff the London Living Wage was due to be debated at a council meeting.
Cllr Melvyn Caplan, member for finance, resources and customer services, said: “Calling for our contractors to introduce the London Living Wage is a laudable objective, but we have to consider what the cost would be at a time when this council is faced with making hundreds of millions of pounds worth of savings?
“We have to ask where will the money to fund increased wages come from?”