THE lowest paid staff at South Lakeland District Council could be in line for a wage rise to bring their pay packets up to the ‘living wage’.

The £7.65-an-hour 'living wage' rate is higher than the national minimum wage of £6.31, and is calculated on the basic cost of living in the UK, said council papers.

Employers are not obliged to pay it although many councils are adopting the rate as supporters say it helps tackle poverty.

A meeting of the full council heard that 21 people, or 15 full-time equivalent posts, from SLDC’s 386-strong workforce, earn below the living wage.

Coun Sue Sanderson, the Lib Dem portfolio holder for environment and people, said it would cost SLDC approximately £16,000 to bring the employees up to living wage rates, although some details still needed to be worked out.

Coun Sylvia Emmott, the Lib Dem chairwoman of the council’s human resources committee, supported the move and said officers had been tasked to look at the implications of introducing the living wage to the council.

Councillors also agreed that there would not be any pay increases this year for its chief executive and top directors, although the rest of the council’s staff have their salary determined by pay bargaining arrangements or nationally-negotiated pay spines.

The pay of the chief executive will not exceed £104,984 over the financial year with a pension contribution of around 11.4 per cent.