Hackney Council promises action on poverty wages

Hackney Town Hall with sky

Proper pay for nursery staff: Hackney Council says it supports London Living Wage for childcare workers. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

Hackney Council has vowed to cease advertising childcare positions that pay below the London Living Wage (LLW) of £8.30 an hour.

The decision comes after the Hackney Citizen challenged the council to explain why underpaid positions at private nurseries were being promoted by the council via its Hackney Learning Trust’s (HLT) Family Information Service.

The service offers childcare information to parents and has a free monthly advertising service for childcare employers, including privately owned nurseries.

Several of the jobs advertised this month – positions such as nursery nurse, nursery officer and nursery assistant – not only fail to meet the London Living Wage, but also fall short of the living wage of £7.20 for the rest of the country.

Four vacancies are offering between £6.19 and £6.50 an hour for low-level positions at local nurseries which include basic duties such as “making snacks” and “maintaining cleanliness” – rates which are at or just above the National Minimum Wage of £6.19 per hour and arguably not enough to survive on in the capital.

Hackney Council’s own policy on the London Living Wage is clear.

Since the council signed up to the London Living Wage in 2005, all direct council employees’ pay must either meet or exceed it.

However there is still some debate and controversy surrounding the rate of pay for staff hired through third party contractors.

Conservative London Assembly Member and Hackney resident Andrew Boff, who has been critical in the past of the council’s attitude towards the London Living Wage, said: “With the nurseries, these are not even contractors of the council but what the council is doing is promoting those low paid jobs. It’s wrong.”

Mr Boff claimed that the nursery jobs advertised on the Hackney Learning Trust’s website will inevitably be filled by people living further out, where living costs are much lower: “The effect of paying those low wages is effectively to exclude Hackney people from taking up those positions,” he said.

The Hackney Learning Trust has thanked the Hackney Citizen for highlighting the issue. A spokesperson said: “Since you have raised this to our attention we have reviewed this process and will from now on ensure that any future post we advertise on behalf of any provider also fits within our Hackney Learning Trust policy, which meets or exceeds the London Living Wage standard.”

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