|Apprentices celebrate council leader’s living wage pledge
More than 50 apprentices are celebrating a significant boost in their earning power thanks to a living wage pledge by the leader of Wigan Council.
Lord Peter Smith has increased the rate of pay for more than 50 apprentices at Wigan Council to the national living wage rate of £7.50 an hour.
This has meant an increase in pay of more than £1,500 a year for some apprentices and the wage has been back-paid to April.
Lord Smith is a long-term supporter of apprentices in Wigan Borough having previously pledged £1.5m to support businesses to recruit apprentices in the private sector.
This has led to hundreds of young people gaining their first vital step on the career ladder.
The council itself employs apprentices in all areas of its work including administrational, environmental services and social care.
Lord Smith said: “At Wigan Council we are fully committed to apprenticeships as a proven way for young people to gain the experience and skills of work while earning a wage.
“We believe all apprentices working for the council deserve the national living wage so I’m delighted we are now implementing this fully.
“I hope this will help them financially as they establish themselves in their careers and as young adults working and living in the borough.”
The boost was welcomed by three apprentices who work in the council’s Greenspaces horticultural department.
Cory Hope, 19, Joe Lally, 25, and Jake Deakin, 20, are all in their first year as apprentices working to help make the borough’s parks and greenspaces beautiful places to be.
Joe said: “We received a letter through the door to say we were getting an increase in our wage. It was a nice surprise!
“I’ve been able to do more with the family so it’s definitely been a good thing.”
Cory added: “It means we are all being paid the same which is good. We are all being treated as equals.”
The national living wage was introduced to ensure that work pays, helps keep people out of debt and reduces demand on the benefits system.