New council deal could see living wage for voluntary sector workers
Tens of thousands of key third sector workers in Scotland could be in for a substantial pay hike.
Staff working in social care could see an across the board rise in their wages to the £8.25 an hour living wage rate.
The lift will happen if the Scottish Government pushes through a tough new cash settlement on the country’s local authorities.
Finance secretary John Swinney has presented Scotland’s 32 councils with an offer they can’t refuse.
This is a great move to eliminate poverty wages and improve conditions for care workers in our sector who have been the victims of aggressive cost cutting in the past
He has instructed them to accept a new cash deal which will also see them agreeing to stick with the council tax freeze, maintain pupil-teacher ratios and, crucially for the third sector, implement the living wage for all social care staff, a move that would include topping up wages paid by private and voluntary sector employers.
Councils who refuse to sign up stand to lose tens of millions.
The deal will have a massive impact for workers in a key area of the voluntary sector – one which employs around 50,000 people.
Staff who don’t currently get the living wage could see a wage increase of around 23%.
A staff member on a fulltime permanent 35 hours a week contract would currently be earning £12,194 on the £6.70 national minimum wage but under the new deal would get a nearly £3,000 a year rise to £15,015.
Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), welcomed the move and demanded it is implemented straight away.
He said: “This is a great move to eliminate poverty wages and improve conditions for care workers in our sector who have been the victims of aggressive cost cutting in the past.
“It’s the culmination of a long-running campaign to provide parity between care provided by councils, where the living wage is guaranteed, and outsourced care services delivered by the third sector. All councils should accept and implement this deal without delay.”
This was widely echoed in third sector circles.
Peter Kelly, director Poverty Alliance, which administers the living wage in Scotland, said: “The Poverty Alliance is supportive of further efforts to promote the living wage, and particularly efforts to ensure that care workers are paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
“At the same time, we need to ensure that local authorities are adequately funded to provide the services that people rely on."
Annie Gunner Logan of the Coalition of Care Providers in Scotland (CCPS) said: “CCPS is delighted that Mr Swinney has given such a high priority to pay for care and support workers in the local government settlement.
“Providers have long aspired to pay the living wage to their staff, but the resources to underpin it have simply not been there. On the contrary, downward pressure on care costs over many years has been severe, and this has had a serious impact on staff pay and conditions.
“This new offer is a major boost to our aspirations and we will be working closely with central and local government to bring it to a successful conclusion.”
However, David O’Neill, leader of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities umbrella body, said of the Scottish Government deal: “Make no mistake, this is not a matter of choice for councils and this may be perceived as a victory for Mr Swinney, but it is certainly not a victory for communities or democracy.”