People caring for the most vulnerable people in Redbridge are not paid a basic reasonable wage, it is claimed.

People contracted by the council to look after people with dementia and the disabled earn less than £8.80 an hour, which is considered a reasonable ‘living wage’ in London by campaigners.

Deputy council leader Ian Bond said the authority would have to make 100 people redundant in order to pay carers the required rate.

But speaking during a debate at the headquarters of campaign group Redbridge Citizens last night, Labour opposition deputy leader, Cllr Wes Streeting, accused the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition of getting its priorities wrong.

Council leader keith Prince hit back by claiming the authority could be taken to court for not opting for the cheapest contractor.

He said: “There are issues around EU procurement law and we could be taken to court if we refuse to use services because they do not pay the living wage.

“We can encourage them and we would like to see every service pay the living wage, we will do everything we can within the law.”

Cllr Bond also insisted the council had limited options when dealing with the issue.

He said: ““We can only say a maybe to paying every contracted out carer a living wage.

“It would be extremely difficult to give everyone this as we would have to make the equivalent cuts of making 100 council workers redundant.

“We would obviously like to see higher wages for carers but we would need to find a satisfactory way of doing it and I can’t see one at the moment.”

But Cllr Streeting insisted the council leadership could do more.

He said: “It is time for the council to get its priorities right and pay contracted out staff a living wage. It is so important and there is an opportunity to ensure all carers are provided with the living wage.

“It will take negotiations and won't happen overnight but Labour is committed to making it happen in Redbridge.”