A FORMER leader of Worcester City Council has made his own personal plea to carry on paying staff the Living Wage - saying it is "the right thing to do".

Councillor Adrian Gregson, who introduced the in-house minimum pay rate of £7.45-an-hour back in January when he was in charge, told your Worcester News it would be "regressive and counterproductive" to scrap it.

His old Labour administration was booted from office in June after a Conservative coup, and the new leadership says it will not be making any long-term decisions until around Christmas.

Cllr Gregson forced it through during a full council vote, which was backed by the Liberal Democrat and Green parties but not the Conservatives.

As part of the deal it will be reviewed after 12 months, which in this case means January 2015.

The veteran Labour man says it would be "dead hand" economics to revert to the basic minimum wage for the lowest paid.

He said: "Paying employers a living wage is the right thing to do, and what it also does is encourage our contractors to pay the living wage too.

"To go backwards on it would be regressive, counterproductive and all it will do is put more people into poverty."

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

Councillor Simon Geraghty, the leader, says he will have to take into account "the costs and benefits" before taking a view.

"When we get to December that's the time when we'll be starting to pull together all the issues," he said.

"In terms of the finances there's things like council tax and income sources like planning fees, parking revenues, because for an authority like Worcester these are all very important to the budget."

The pay rise by Labour will cost taxpayers £25,000 this year.

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.

Scores of town halls around the UK have now agreed to opt for the Living Wage, but not at Worcestershire County Council, where it was rejected last year on the grounds of costs.