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COSLA: MINIMUM WAGE WILL ALLEVIATE POVERTY

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COSLA welcomes the introduction of a national minimum wage which, it says, will have a real impact on alleviating p...
COSLA welcomes the introduction of a national minimum wage which, it says, will have a real impact on alleviating poverty, in its evidence today to the Low Pay Commission.

Pat Watters, giving evidence on behalf of COSLA at the commission meeting in Glasgow, also called for a parallel reform of the benefit and taxation system to achieve the best results in relieving poverty.

Telling the commission that local government had already established a minimum£4.00 hourly rate, cllr Watters expressed concern about the level at which the minimum wage should be pitched, warning that too high a figure would have a major impact on jobs in local government.

'And as a major purchaser of goods and services, we have an interest in the effect of the minimum wage on suppliers' costs and in the economic infrastructure of our communities,' cllr Watters told commission members.

He also said that an uprating mechanism could have a major influence on public sector pay negotiations and suggested that the minimum wage should be reviewed less frequently than annually and not linked to an index such as RPI or average earnings.

'Generally, however, we would not expect major changes to local government pay structures or service delivery systems as a direct result of the introduction of national minimum wage at a level below our current minimum wage,' Mr Watters continued.

'This would still allow a minimum wage which would significantly enhance the income of a substantial proportion of the nation's workforce without adverse economic effects.'

Mr Watters said that local government had a more diverse interest in the issue of a national minimum wage than most other employers.

'Councils are major employers who also have a direct interest as social services authorities and the providers of other key public services - including the alleviation of poverty in the poorest sections of our communities,' he said.

'We are community leaders, particularly in promoting economic

development where we have a duty to get the balance right between the job creation potential of a national minimum wage and avoiding pricing jobs out of international markets.'

Copies of COSLA's evidence to the Low Pay Commission are available from the COSLA Public Affairs Office.

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