Quango Unchained: Living Wage commitment is a must
AS A principle it is incontrovertible – everyone should earn enough money to maintain a basic standard of living.
But in a world where every penny has been pinched and every belt tightened, it doesn't matter how great an idea is if there isn't any money to pay for it.
And that's the problem being faced by Gloucestershire County Council, and every other organisation with a desire to be an ethical employer, as it considers whether or not it can afford to make a commitment to paying all of its employees a Living Wage.
Dragging the 900 or so people who work for the authority who earn less than the Living Wage up to the £7.45 an hour benchmark would cost Shire Hall £501,000 a year.
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On its own that is one hell of a chunk of change, but how much is it really?
We have become so used to cuts and savings announcements from every walk of public life that you could argue we have become completely desensitised.
But here are some figures that are important to this debate:
1. Gloucestershire County Council's total budget for 2013/14 is £431million.
2. Half a million pounds represents 0.1 per cent of that budget.
The benefits of adopting the Living Wage for employees are obvious while evidence shows an employer gets more loyal workers, improved customer service and reduced levels of absenteeism.
Which leads me to my point. If there is any way the county council can make it work financially it has to commit to the Living Wage.
There is no magical money tree but if anything was ever worth doing, this is it.
■ It was a loaded question, designed to fluster. "Why doesn't Ed Miliband look like a Prime Minister?" Jeremy Paxman asked Labour's shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, on Monday's Newsnight.
Talk about an impossible question. No matter how you choose to answer, you lose. Insist that Mr Miliband does demonstrate the traits of leadership and you automatically give credence to the question, but avoid a direct answer in favour of skirting the issue and you leave the premise of the question lingering like a bad smell.
I tweeted after the exchange that the question was "unwinnable".
The response was astounding, with people from across the political spectrum either attacking Mr Miliband by answering the question in the most creative ways possible, or defending him by citing previous PMs, or what they see as "media bias".
The whole back and forth struck me as utterly ridiculous.
I couldn't care less what a politician looks like. Name-calling is often entertaining but what should take precedence is policy.