County Hall bosses are facing a bill of more than £600,000 when the Living Wage goes up by 20 pence an hour in April.
But thousands of Lancashire County Council staff have been assured the authority will honour its pledge to pay the increase despite the Government’s demand for £500m of budget cuts.
Leader Coun Jennifer Mein said: “I made a commitment when we took control of the council in 2013 that we would introduce a Living Wage to make sure that we pay our staff a wage that matches the basic cost of living. As a result, we’re directly helping staff in a range of frontline roles including cleaners and school catering staff.
“These are dedicated people, who provide many important services for people across Lancashire, and we have to make sure that their pay covers the basic cost of living.”
Lancashire is at the forefront of a campaign to introduce the pay standard across the country. The authority is one of only two shire counties to be accredited as a Living Wage employer. While the national minimum wage currently pays only £6.50 an hour for workers over 21, the Living Wage is £7.65 an hour, rising to £7.85 in April.
County Hall agreed to bring in the higher pay rate in December 2013 for all directly employed staff within the authority. The council says that when the decision was taken only 3.4 per cent of the adult full-time workforce of LCC and 45.1 per cent of adult part-time workers earned less than the Living Wage, particularly in jobs like cleaning, catering, school crossing patrols and caring for older people.
The authority is now working hard to persuade its contractors to pay the same rates.
“There are clear benefits to us as an employer relating to recruiting and retaining staff,” added Coun Mein. “We encourage other councils and businesses in Lancashire to follow suit.”