£600k bail-out to enable Live Borders to pay its staff the Living Wage

Saturday March 23rd 2024


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

Members of Scottish Borders Council will next week be asked to agree a £600k bail-out to help its sports, leisure and culture trust pay its staff the Living Wage.

The council launched a review with Live Borders last year amid concern at how elements of the organisation operated and the closure for essential repairs of some leisure facilities.

When members of SBC meet on Thursday they will receive an update on the progress made on a transformational programme.

But they will also be informed that as the close partnership working continues, further financial pressures have been identified and councillors are being asked to agree to the allocation of £600,000 to support Live Borders to pay its staff the real Living Wage (£12 an hour) from April 2024 and an assumed three per cent pay increase for other staff groups.

Councillor Euan Jardine, leader of Scottish Borders Council, said: “Live Borders is the council’s sport, leisure and culture trust and we remain absolutely committed to working together with the Live Borders board members and staff to deal with the challenges currently being experienced.

“Although the joint transformation programme is progressing well, financial pressures in 2024/25 are forecast. The provision of £600,000 will allow Live Borders to pay the real Living Wage, which is a key criteria for achieving external funding from other sources, and is also vital in attracting and retaining staff.

“As the programme develops and more work is undertaken and projects completed, I have no doubt that savings will be achieved, income generating opportunities developed and other external funding sourced, which will help toward our long-term goal of financial sustainability. We always knew that the changes required would not happen overnight and we are still near the start of a complex journey.”

Alison Moore, chair of Live Borders, said: “Our staff are fundamental to the success of Live Borders – without them we would not be able to provide the valued services we deliver across the Scottish Borders.

“We have to treat them fairly and we also have to be able to compete in the recruitment market, to attract and retain the best people to run our services. That is why it is important that we, like the council, move to pay the real Living Wage.

“The transformation programme is progressing well, and we will continue to work through this year of positive change to reach a sustainable financial footing going forward. We are still in the very early stages and there is much work still to do.

“It is inescapable that Live Borders and the council are going to have to make some difficult decisions along the way however.”

Nine projects being undertaken by Live Borders and Scottish Borders Council following a joint review of sport, leisure and cultural services and facilities are expected to be complete by the end of the month, councillors will be told next week.

They are among 34 projects in a joint transformational change programme aimed at delivering high quality services now and in the future through a financially sustainable and high performing partnership between the two organisations.

Projects within the joint transformational change programme include the development of detailed options appraisals and associated consultation on the future of the council-owned buildings operated and managed by Live Borders which meet various criteria, including high repair/maintenance costs, decreasing user numbers, increased running costs and where there is the potential to relocate or co-locate services.

The development of a Sport Facilities and Health and Wellbeing Strategy and a Cultural and Arts Strategy, with accompanying action plans, are also amongst the projects.

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