CAMPAIGNERS are set to lobby Dorset County Council ahead of a decision on whether to pay the living wage to council employees.

Councillors will discuss paying all employees £7.65 an hour at Thursday's full council meeting.

At present, around 1500 council staff are paid less than this rate and researchers have also identified up to 500 local businesses that regularly carry out work on the council’s behalf, where employees may also be subjected to low pay.

The Living Wage for Dorset campaign (LWD), which is organising Thursday’s lobby at County Hall in Dorchester, has already contacted every county councillor with a request that they agree to make the local authority a living wage employer and is hoping that further pressure will convince the council to recognise the importance of paying higher wages.

Campaigners say that evidence shows low pay is strongly associated with poor job security and treatment, fuel poverty, expensive housing costs, lower educational attainment, reduced mental health, suppressed economic demand and it debilitates the human spirit.

Neil Duncan-Jordan, LWD campaign chair said: “Becoming a living wage employer would be an important and significant step for the council to take. Living wage employers see improvements in the quality of work, productivity and rates of absenteeism – as well as helping with recruitment and retention of staff. Of course, the higher wages also boost spending in the local economy and reduce the reliance on, and cost of, working-age benefits. Everyone wins – the employer, the employee and Dorset taxpayers.”

“Becoming a Living Wage employer also sends a very strong signal to others in the county that public services and business has to be based on more than simply the lowest possible price.

"Average pay for full time workers with jobs in Dorset is at least 5% lower than the national average with pay as low as 19% lower in South Dorset, equivalent to £96.00 per week. Only 11% of the Dorset workforce is employed in high pay sectors, and 30% of the county’s workforce is in low pay sectors such as hospitality, care, retail and food production.”

Over the coming months the LWD campaign will begin targeting local employers, employees and the general public in a bid to raise the issue up the political agenda ahead of the 2015 general election.