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Council Leader presses Scottish Government for Living Wage power

living wage

Council Leader presses Scottish Government for Living Wage power

Renfrewshire Council’s Leader wants private companies to pay a fair Living Wage to any of their staff who deliver work for the local authority – and he has written to the Scottish Government in a bid to turn this into reality.

living wageCouncillor Mark Macmillan has written to the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to urge that powers be added to public contract regulations. These would enable councils to specify that contractors’ employees are paid the Living Wage when they deliver work for local authorities. Currently, when awarding contracts to private sector companies, the council cannot take the rate of employees’ wages into consideration.

This move forms part of Renfrewshire Council’s anti-poverty agenda and links to the authority’s work supporting people affected by the UK government’s Welfare Reform and the £8million Invest in Renfrewshire programme that supports businesses while creating work and training opportunities.

Councillor Macmillan said: “I am fighting to get everyone working in Renfrewshire a fair Living Wage. It’s better for business and it means that people can work their way out of poverty. It is simply the right thing to do.

“The Scottish Government needs to change its legislation to let us specify to contractors that, when their staff are delivering work for the council, they have to pay them our Living Wage. It is simply unjust that a worker doing the same job as a council employee is paid at a lower rate.

“Renfrewshire’s Living Wage is fair, it’s encouraging, it shows that we value our employees and their work, and it’s better for the local economy. I’d urge Nicola Sturgeon to give us the powers we need to make sure anyone delivering work for Renfrewshire Council, receives our Living Wage.”

Councillor Macmillan has asked the Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, to address these legal issues regarding contractors in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill.

He also plans to work with Renfrewshire employers later this year to encourage them to consider applying the £7.50 per hour Living Wage. Already, companies who recruit employees and interns under the Invest in Renfrewshire programme are paid a £1000 bonus.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and updated annually. It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK and employers choose to pay it on a voluntary basis. The current hourly Living Wage outside London is set at £7.45. Renfrewshire Council was one of the first Scottish local authorities to introduce a living wage for its own staff and, for 2013/14, this is set at £7.50 per hour.

The national minimum wage is currently set at £6.21. More information on the Living Wage can be found online at www.livingwage.org.uk

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Latest welfare reform hits as DLA change gets underway

Latest welfare reform hits as DLA change gets underway

People in Renfrewshire who want to make a claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are being urged by the council to find out more about key changes the Government is making to the benefit.

From June 10 working-age adults will no longer be able to make new claims for DLA and will instead have to claim for a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The move is part of the UK Government’s current benefit change programme and will see DLA replaced by PIP for 16-64 year olds over the next few years.

Councillor Mike Holmes, Renfrewshire Council’s Deputy Leader, said: “The changes are confusing and worrying a lot of people. The UK Government wants to achieve a 20% saving in the cost of DLA – but we still don’t know how that will impact on disabled people. The Government’s own figures recognise that only 0.5% of DLA is claimed fraudulently, so when they cut the bill by 20%, many genuine cases will lose out.”

The second stage of change will happen from October 2013 when existing DLA claimants will have to apply for PIP – if they report a change in their condition, turn 16, or reach a review date.

Everyone else on DLA will be contacted to apply for PIP from 2015.

Councillor Holmes added: “When you need to apply for PIP – whether it’s just now as a new claim, in October because your DLA comes for review or its later down the line when the DWP writes to you – please don’t forget that we’ve set up a dedicated team of advisors who are here to help you through the process.”

Only those who turned 65 on or before 8 April 2013 will remain on DLA. Children will continue to receive DLA until they turn 16.

For more information on the changes visit www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/benefitchanges or phone 0300 300 0288.