COUNCIL staff will get a boost in their next wage packet as NAC rolls out the new Living Wage - four months early.

North Ayrshire Council say it is stepping up its fight against inequality by committing to pay the new Living Wage before the April 2018 deadline. Today – to mark the start of Living Wage Week – the new rate of £8.75 per hour was announced, a rise of 30p per hour on the current rate of £8.45.

Although the new rate is not due to be adopted by businesses and organisations until after April 2018, the council has committed to ensuring staff receive the increase in their next pay.

The Leader of North Ayrshire Council, Joe Cullinane, said: “This is a clear statement that the council is committed to tackling inequality and helping those on low income.

“Just a few weeks ago, we took part in Challenge Poverty Week, raising awareness of poverty in our area and what we can do to help those struggling to make ends meet.

“Earning the real Living Wage can make a huge difference to people’s lives. As the largest single employer in North Ayrshire, we’re proud to show support for our lowest-paid workers by committing to paying the real Living Wage early.”

North Ayrshire Council became a Living Wage Employer last year and is one of a number of local authorities from across Scotland to be officially accredited by the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative.

The Living Wage was set at £8.45 an hour but North Ayrshire Council pays the slightly higher rate of £8.51 an hour, which reflects the Scottish Local Government Living Wage rate.

The council has paid the Living Wage since 2011, but last year became officially accredited to confirm the authority’s commitment to supporting its staff.

North Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Elma Murray said: “We believe that the Living Wage gives employees the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families, hopefully taking them out of in-work poverty.

“Being accredited as a Living Wage Employer also reflects the core values of our council and makes a positive contribution to society. Not only is paying employees a wage that supports a decent standard of living a responsible thing to do, but there are also clear business, societal and economic benefits in doing so.”

Peter Kelly, Director of The Poverty Alliance, said: “I would like to congratulate North Ayrshire Council on their accreditation and their commitment.”