CALLS for a “living wage” to be looked at in East Yorkshire have been rejected after the county’s council leader said there was no chance of it happening.

Labour councillor Paul Hogan asked a full meeting of East Riding of Yorkshire Council to investigate the “benefits and costs” of bringing in a pay level which would be higher than the existing minimum wage.

But it was rejected by 51 votes to 12, with council leader Stephen Parnaby saying it could cost the authority more than £1 million and bargaining over pay should be done on a national basis.

Senior officials and councillors at City of York Council have pledged to ensure all employees are paid a living wage rate of at least £7.20 an hour following a report by the city’s Fairness Commission, which could see almost 500 workers receive a pay rise.

Coun Hogan told the meeting: “This is not asking for the council or local employers to implement a living wage, it is simply asking for the council to do what thousands of other businesses are doing and consider and investigate it.

“Research shows that money paid to those who are less well off remains in the local economy and often leads to low-paid workers taking fewer days off sick, meaning less disruption. Paying a living wage is the right thing for organisations to do and improves people’s life prospects.”

He said it would mean more pay for 773 council employees and would cost about £400,000 a year, excluding payments to school staff, but falling absenteeism rates would balance this out.

But Coun Parnaby said the council’s sickness rates were “second to none”, and told Coun Hogan: “This is not something which can be sorted out in East Yorkshire alone – it has to be done at a national level.

“If you want to do this, you have to tell us where the savings would be made and how we would pay for it.”

Howdenshire councillor Paul Robinson said introducing a living wage had to be up to individual companies and not done by “council dictat”.