City of Lincoln Council’s leader has promised the authority will continue to pay “no less than the living wage” despite fears over its future finances.
The Labour-led authority is a Living Wage Employer and proud to be so, but increases in staff pay-packets are one of a number of factors putting extra squeeze on its budget.
The past few weeks have seen strike or threat of strike action by a number of professions including railway workers, airline staff, journalists, and council workers.
It comes amid a cost of living crisis including rising fuel, gas and food prices.
Council leader Ric Metcalfe said: “We are a living wage employer and we continue to pay no less than the living wage to all of our employees.”
He said he was pleased that a decent pay award had been offered to local government employees – though a ballot is still due to take place and it is unclear whether, for instance, Unison will accept the offer.
He also said that due to a “wide range of occupational groups,” including a lot of middle managers, senior managers and professional staff, the authority’s average pay was higher than some other organisations.
He said the council’s “hard-pressed” staff “certainly deserve an increase because local government pay has been held down for years”.
However, he said the flat-rate increase of about 4.5% was “significantly higher than we were expecting or had budgeted for”.
Speaking of finances in general, Councillor Metcalfe said had been “encouraged” by the council’s initial recovery from the “ravages” of COVID.
However, he said: “As we always expected, nothing stays the same.
“As things, and our income, began to improve… along comes price inflation.
“Just as households are facing up against it… so will organisations like ourselves.”
This comes on top of an ever-increasing number of people who use the city’s services but live and pay council tax outside the authority’s borders – for instance in North Kesteven or West Lindsey – meaning the authority does not get some valuable income which it could use to maintain services and infrastructure.
The council’s procurement team are examining how the authority could get better value for money for its energy bills and other contracts while the authority also looked to reduce its energy usage as part of its bid to tackle climate change and become carbon net neutral by 2030.