LOW-PAID workers at Newport council could see their wages increased under a £1 million plan being discussed by councillors.

A confidential city council document, seen by the Argus, discusses the possibility of implementing a £7.20 per hour “living wage” for council employees by 2014/15.

The move, which could cost the council £1 million, was one of a package of investments considered by the council’s cabinet when it met in December to discuss its five-year financial plan and the 2013/14 budget.

According to the document, the council has 1,644 staff earning below £7.20 per hour and, in a worst-case scenario, the scheme would cost £1.04 million in 2014/15.

That would be made up by £884,000 in basic pay, £95,000 in national insurance costs and pension costs of £65,000.

However, the report says that a pay and grading review will “address the issue” of lower graded staff.

The report was used as a basis for consultations over the fiveyear plan and the budget for next year.

Proposals for a living wage is separate from the legally enforceable minimum wage, which is £6.19 per hour for people aged 21 and over.

According to the Living Wage Foundation, the rate is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK for outgoings such as transport, food and bills.

Although the council report quotes £7.20 as the rate, the foundation currently puts the living wage at £7.45 an hour.

Employers choose to pay it on a voluntary basis – already the National Assembly for Wales, the Department for Work & Pensions and Caerphilly council are among those that have signed up to the idea.

Reports have said wide-spread use of the living wage could save central government £2 billion a year, with more paid in income tax and less paid out in benefits and tax credits.

Newport council was asked for a comment but did not respond.