LABOUR councillors in the Ribble Valley have won a vote calling on the borough to adopt the Living Wage for the lowest-paid staff.

Opposition Labour councillors combined with Lib-Dems and Greens to secure a motion calling on Ribble Valley Council to adopt the policy for workers aged 18 and over, and to move to becoming an official Living Wage employer.

Cllr Karl Barnsley, who put forward the full council motion, told councillors the Living Wage rate suggested by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) was £10.90 per hour - and the government's National Living Wage is currently £10.42 per hour.

And the meeting heard the council currently sets the pay of lowest paid workers at National Living Wage rates, which are lower.

He added: “The Living Wage determines the wage rate needed to ensure households earn enough to reach a minimum acceptable living standard.”

Councillors were told other district authorities nearby such Burnley, Rossendale and South Ribble, and Lancashire County Council, had adopted the practice.

He asked the council to recognise the LWF's rate as the ‘truest reflection of a wage needed for the cost of living’.

But Conservative Cllr Stephen Atkinson, the council leader, questioned whether such motions should go to a committee rather than be taken to a vote.

But Labour group leader Cllr Lee Jameson claimed Coun Atkinson was trying to influence decisions.

Mair Hill, the borough’s legal head, said it was discretionary. The motion could be referred without any discussion to a committee if councillors decided or discussed at the full council.

Cllr  Atkinson said the Labour details on council pay were not correct and the authority's lowest rate was above the National Minimum Wage. It did take into account a final pay settlement for this year which, with other factors, worked out at £11.60 an hour – higher than the LWF rate.

Cllr Atkinson said Unison trade union represents lowest-paid council staff and had accepted the council offer. But one member of staff was in the GMB union. which had not.

He added: “I would urge Labour councillors to encourage support for this deal as soon as possible. It would result in a payment of over £1,000, helping all staff.”

Cllr Atkinson also queried whether a charity behind the Living Wage Foundation, Citizens UK, had any democratic mandate to campaign on wage policy, unlike politicians.

He also told councillors the LWF had income of £2.6m for the year-ending March 2022 and its highest-paid director earned nore than £100,000.

He added: “I do not accept the LWF rate is the truest reflection of wage levels needed.  This council’s pay offer is above the other levels mentioned tonight. I’d urge councillors to encourage the GMB union to accept a 9.4 per cent pay increase for lowest-paid staff.”

And he insisted the borough's personnel committee was the right forum to debate pay agreements and the council’s financial position.”

Conservative Cllr Stuart Hirst said no professional businesses were modelled on low wages but pay agreements were ‘delicate eco-systems’ with national and local factors. Change needed careful study. In the past, the council went through a ‘minefield’ of issues after staff reappraisals.

He added: “If we are to follow all the things proposed by this organisation, we will need more than an A4 sheet presented to the council ”

Independent Cllr Jim Rogerson said: “We have got to be careful with public money. The public doesn’t elect us to be subservient to unelected bodies or quangos. We’re elected to represent the people.”

But Labour’s Cllr Jameson said: “This motion has come from Cllr Barnsley on his own accord. He is not a quango. He is an elected councillor and deserves consideration.”

In votes, Labour’s motion was ultimately supported by the majority of councillors.