Oxford City Council has become the first authority in the county to gain “living wage” accreditation by making sure all employees get paid at least £8 an hour.

The council has been accredited by the national Living Wage Foundation after implementing the scheme three years ago.

A “living wage” is higher than the national minimum wage and is calculated based on the cost of living in a specific area of the country.

City council employees are all paid more than the £8.01-an-hour rate, almost £2 higher than the minimum wage, which is currently £6.19.

Council leader Bob Price said: “The council has strongly endorsed that its employees and contractors’ employees should be paid at least living wage, rather then the much lower national minimum.

“We know that the costs of housing and transport in Oxford are higher than elsewhere, and the living wage reflects those costs.

“The Greater London Authority has taken the same approach, reflecting the high costs of living in the capital.

“We’re pleased our initiative has been formally recognised and the positive effects this policy has had on supporting the city’s economy.”

Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, added: “The benefits to staff and business are clear. I welcome the leadership shown by Oxford City Council on this.”

Caroline Glendinning, the authority’s Unison representative, said the union and its members welcomed the accreditation.

She added: “We want an equivalent to a London weighting, like an Oxford weighting, and this goes some way towards addressing that, but it is a drop in the ocean.

“To be fair to the administration, it is something they pushed for. No one at this council has been paid less than £8 an hour since 2009.”

She said the scheme even extended to temporary or agency staff, under the terms of a deal agreed between council chiefs and contractors.

She said: “It’s not just our employees — any contractors who work for us have to pay their staff the living wage.

“It also applies to any agency staff, and all our leisure services, even though they are partly sub-contracted.”

Oxford is the only one of Oxfordshire’s six local authorities to have gained accreditation.

Both Cherwell District and Oxfordshire County Council confirmed there was no plan for a living wage, and the other districts did not respond to the Oxford Mail’s inquiries.