Living Wage (Local Authorities)

Scottish Executive Question Time — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 1st July 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour 11:40 am, 1st July 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive whether it supports the introduction of a living wage by local authorities this year. (S3O-11153)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is keen to ensure that people have a decent wage. From 1 August this year, nobody who is employed by the Scottish Government will earn under £7.15 an hour, the current living wage level that is proposed by the Scottish living wage campaign. Local government pay is a matter for local authorities and the appropriate trade unions.

Photo of Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander Labour

If the living wage is right for central Government employees and the health service, why is it not also right for local government employees?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Wendy Alexander will be familiar with the arrangements. In essence, local authorities are self-governing bodies. It is not for ministers in this Parliament to specify to local authorities the terms and conditions under which they should employ their staff. As I indicated, the Scottish Government is keen to ensure that individuals have a decent wage. For that reason, we took the decisions that we have taken. Clearly, it is a matter for local authorities to take decisions that affect individual authorities.

Photo of John Wilson John Wilson Scottish National Party

I am interested not only in the cabinet secretary's response in terms of local authorities but in the question from Wendy Alexander. She is keen on the living wage, as is the cabinet secretary. Will he make representations to the United Kingdom Government to ensure that all workers receive at least the living wage rather than the national minimum wage? Will he ask it to review the national minimum wage?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Clearly, under the Scotland Act 1998, the setting of the national minimum wage is a matter for the UK Government. As a consequence, it is for the UK Government to take its own decisions in that respect. As I set out, the Scottish Government has established a position on the level of the wage that is paid to members of our staff. I am, of course, very happy to communicate our position to the UK Government.