A LIVING Wage will be paid to all staff at Shire Hall and first-year apprentices will be given special bus passes entitling them to free travel around Gloucestershire after the county council agreed to include proposals put forward by the Labour Party in its 2014/15 budget.
At a meeting of the full council on Wednesday, the Labour group tabled eight amendments to GCC’s spending plans – six of which were accepted by the minority Conservative administration that runs the authority.
Labour group leader Lesley Williams, who represents the Stonehouse ward, hailed the inclusion of her party’s amendments in GCC’s spending plans, saying they would make a ‘big difference’ to a large number of residents living in Gloucestershire.
Along with the introduction of the living wage of £7.65 per hour for council workers and the apprentice travel card scheme, Labour also secured money in the budget to help tackle health inequalities and fund grants for community and voluntary groups delivering services in the county.
An amendment to give children in care and young people who have recently left care free bus passes also gained members’ support.
Speaking during the meeting, Cllr Williams, said: “The living wage is important. It helps support workers and their families by ensuring they are paid a wage which ensures a fair return for the work they put in and also reduces the burden on the benefit system.
“Indeed, the living wage helps people through the cost of living crisis we are all facing.
“Labour wants to encourage more employers to pay their staff the Living Wage, but before we can do this it is vital that the county council sets the standard.”
Referring to the travel cards for apprentices, she added: “Our apprentices are paid very low wages, £2.65 an hour and many drop out because they are unable to afford to get to work.
We as a council should be rewarding young people who want to work hard and we should support them to do so.
“That is why the Labour Party has developed plans with officers to create a county wide apprentice card, open to all apprentices that would give them free bus travel in their first year of training.”