North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) has committed to paying its staff at least the real living wage in a bid to attract and retain workers.
The authority, which has just hit its six-month anniversary, currently has more than 900 vacancies to fill with concerns over staff defecting to West Northamptonshire Council, as reported by NN Journal.
Some of the vacancies have left a North Northamptonshire Council home care service based in Corby decimated and on its knees.
In August we reported how there were 32 vacancies there that remained unfulfilled. Even agency staff have snubbed the roles because of the poor rates of pay.
The council had faced pressure to find a solution to ensure the service could continue over Christmas, with its dedicated staff left in an untenable situation and some regularly working back-to-back shifts as a union held pay talks.
Those aged over 23 employed there are paid the minimum wage of £8.91 an hour - but all NNC employees will now be paid at least the real living way of £9.50 per hour which is considered to be a fairer rate of pay because it better reflects the cost of living.
The extra 59p an hour will mean at least an extra £22 a week for those currently on the minimum wage who work a standard 37.5 hour week.
And those workers on the minimum wage are in line for an unexpected lump sum because NNC will be backdating it to April 1.
Council leader Cllr Jason Smithers said: “I am delighted to announce that North Northamptonshire Council will be paying the real living wage.
"The real living wage will provide a fairer pay rate for our dedicated and hardworking staff and I believe this is a major step in the right direction.
"We will be looking to implement this minimum pay rate as soon as we practically can and will be backdating it to April 1, 2021."
Cllr Helen Harrison, executive member for adults, health and wellbeing, said: “This is without a doubt a significant commitment and one we are proud to make.
"Implementing the higher real living wage rate will benefit many of our care staff who currently earn the lower national living wage.
"We hope this will go some way in helping show our appreciation for the work that they do but also help us more effectively attract and retain staff working in adult social care and in other areas of the council.”
Yolande Morgan, the Unison lead convenor for North Northamptonshire Council, said: “The trade unions have been working closely with North Northants Council on the introduction of the real living wage and welcome this announcement.
"Local government staff, particularly care staff, have been at the front line throughout the pandemic.
"Paying the real living wage will really help low paid staff to pay their bills and buy food.
"It is also an investment in council services and in North Northamptonshire. It means that people are more likely to work for their local council, to stay living locally and spend their income locally."