A DECISION on whether to pay council staff in Worcester the official Living Wage beyond next spring will not be made until around Christmas, it has emerged.

The city's leader Councillor Simon Geraghty has admitted he will have a lot of thinking to do before committing to the rates for the long-term.

Back in November last year the old Labour administration agreed to give its lowest-paid staff the rate of £7.65 an hour.

It came into force from January, but was only a 'temporary' agreement to be reviewed after 12 months.

Cllr Geraghty says the new Conservative leadership is not prepared to make changes in the current financial year, which runs until the end of March.

But staff looking for answers beyond next March will have to wait until December time for a firm indication. Last year all 15 Conservative councillors voted against introducing the Living Wage and it only came into force after Labour, Green and Lib Dem support.

At the time there were concerns over it de-motivating workers already earning slightly above that rate, fears over the costs and potential confusion over the pay brackets being blurred.

If the council did scrap the rates and revert back to the minimum wage it would be a bitter blow for the lowest paid.

The pay rise benefited 73 people, including cleaners and temporary workers helping out on summer holiday activities.

Cllr Geraghty said: "We'll have to look at it carefully before taking a view, and take into account both the costs and benefits.

"In terms of the workforce we'd have to look at all the issues like wage inflation, we know that has started to slowly creep up and whether we'd have problems filling any of the vacancies.

"It's certainly not something we'd look to change in-year, that would be unfair, but when we get to around December time and start to pull together next year's budget that's when we will start to look at this."

The Living Wage is calculated by a panel of academics, and differs from the £6.31-an-hour minimum wage, in that employers have no legal obligation to pay it.

It will cost taxpayers £25,000 this year, and if carried on could top £75,000 per annum by 2017/18.

By launching a temporary Living Wage deal, it means the council is not tied into having to implement any sudden rises.