Dorset Council is being asked to lead by example and pay all its staff at least the minimum living wage.

Liberal Democrat group leader Nick Ireland says the council’s own figures show that those on the lowest band get an hourly rate of £9.02p – while the Living Wage Foundation recommends that the real, minimum living wage is currently £9.30/hour outside of London.

Cllr Ireland is challenging the Conservative controlled council to pay at least that, or to even go a step further in insisting all its contractors the authority deals with pay at least the living wage to their staff.

He says that the council figures are taken from an item on pay policy at next Tuesday’s full council meeting – which says that the lowest paid staff at the council are on a salary of £17,364 per annum, which equates to an hourly rate of £9.02 at the council’s 37 hours working week.

Said Cllr Ireland in a question to the council meeting: “Other unitary authorities, Cornwall being a prime example, have not only moved to pay all their staff a minimum of the foundation real living wage but have gone much further in insisting their contractors and suppliers do the same as contracts come up for renewal.This encourages staff retention and loyalty and brings benefits the local economy.

“Given the regular appearance of various localities of Dorset Council’s area in indices of child poverty, social deprivation and low-wages, and considering the much repeated aspiration for Dorset Council to be ‘an employer of choice’, will the council leader as a minimum commit to ensuring all Dorset Council employees are paid at least the real living wage as established by the Living Wage Foundation and that this is revised appropriately on a yearly basis?”