OLDHAM Council leader Sean Fielding has announced his commitment to making the local authority a living wage employer.

Cllr Fielding made the pledge during his first-ever annual statement at a meeting of full council.

He confirmed that Oldham Council is working to secure living wage accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation.

This means that all directly employed Oldham Council staff will be paid the foundation’s living wage (£9 per hour), subject to agreement by the authority’s cabinet in December.

Achieving this accreditation would all also see all of Oldham Council’s suppliers paying the living wage to staff working on contracts for the local authority.

Cllr Fielding and chief executive and accountable officer at NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group Carolyn Wilkins will write to suppliers to outline these ambitions for the borough.

Ahead of the announcement, Cllr Fielding visited First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO), one of the first employers in the borough to secure living wage accreditation, to see the impact it has had. He spoke to a range of local people who have been helped by FCHO to secure well-paid employment.

Cllr Fielding said: “I made it clear when I took office that I want to see Oldham become the great place we all know it can be. This means somewhere with a bustling town centre, thriving businesses, cleaner streets, better roads, great education and more jobs.

“If this is the Oldham we want, we also have to make sure that people are paid fairly and that we as employers are meeting the true costs of living. It’s the right thing to do.

“Most of our staff are local residents and this investment will help us retain good staff who live locally. Other businesses that have implemented this have seen improvements in staff motivation and productivity, quality of work and reductions in absences and turnover.

“I will also use this commitment as a platform to have discussions with other local firms, suppliers and partners, to raise the bar in our borough and aspire to our Fair Employment values.

“Paying the Living Wage is voluntary but it says everything about what kind of an organisation we want to be, and the kind of place we want Oldham to be.”