LANCASHIRE County Council leader Geoff Driver has dropped plans to cut 95p an hour off the wages of 5,800 of its lowest-paid workers.

His Tory administration had proposed scrapping paying them the £8.45 an hour Foundation Living Wage in favour of the £7.50 national minimum wage to save £1million a year.

Minutes before the authority’s cabinet debated the proposal, Cllr Driver dropped it but pressed ahead with a review of employment conditions including unpaid leave and sick pay to save £5million annually.

County council Unison branch secretary Elaine Cotterell welcomed the minimum wage U-turn but expressed worries about the review of leave and sick pay.

Cllr Driver said: “Staffing accounts for 70 per cent of our budget so we have to consider these issues.

“We are trying to ensure we continue to offer fair conditions to our staff whilst addressing that financial challenge so we can continue to deliver vital front-line services.

“Cabinet concluded that it would not be right to make changes which would affect our lowest-paid members of staff, so we will continue to pay the Foundation Living Wage, but we have agreed to consult on general terms and conditions, such as unpaid leave and sick pay .”

Ms Cotterell said: “To have cut the wages of the lowest paid staff would have been indefensible.”