The leader of Lichfield District Council has “fallen for George Osborne’s spin” on the issue of the living wage, according to the Labour opposition group.
Cllr Mike Wilcox said there was no need to implement the living wage given the Chancellor’s plans to do so next year across the country.
But Cllr Sue Woodward, Labour opposition group leader, said the reasoning didn’t stand up to scrutiny.
“The Chancellor has played semantics,” she said. “His living wage is not what’s recognised nationally as a living wage.
“Mike Wilcox has simply fallen for the George Osborne’s spin.
“The Chancellor is actually increasing minimum wage – which is to be welcomed – but he’s not committing to what’s actually classed as a living wage in this country.”
Cllr Woodward believes that the local authority has an opportunity to take a stand for all low-paid local residents.
“Lichfield District Council is a significant local employer and should be taking a lead and setting a positive example to other businesses.
“When he ran a business, one Conservative councillor did pay the living wage to his employees. If an individual councillor thinks it’s a good idea, then surely his colleagues should think about it too?
“It would not cost a great deal as there aren’t many people on the minimum wage and it would save the taxpayer – the same one which pays for the council – additional money from a reduction in the in-work benefits being paid.”
Cllr Wilcox said that implementing changes now would not make sense.
He explained: “The Government are introducing new living wage from next year and there’s only a small amount of people not already above that level who are with us.
“It is such a small number affected, that before too long I anticipate that everyone will be above that anyway.
“We would be doubling up the work to do it now and then do it again next year.”