Not everyone who does work for the council should be paid the London Living Wage (LLW), Conservative councillors have said.

All direct employees of Wandsworth Council already get the LLW, but the Labour opposition group wants this to be extended to contractors as well.

Councillor Andy Gibbons, who wrote a report arguing for the change, said: “Wandsworth already pays its own staff the LLW, so it is is unfair not to pay this to contract staff like care workers who provide essential council services.

“Labour believes a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”

The LLW is currently £10.55 an hour, and is higher than the government’s “national living wage” and minimum wages for under 25-year-olds because it is based on the cost of living.

In his report, Cllr Gibbons argued it would help increase staff retention and motivation, and points to research from the Living Wage Foundation and Cardiff Business School that shows it is “not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense”.

He also claimed the LLW would help stabilise the workforce in sectors like social care, which is vulnerable during periods of economic uncertainty – and with a potential labour shortage caused by Brexit.

He pointed to nearby councils adopting the LLW, adding: “Potential bidders for contracts cite the Living Wage as a positive way to recruit and retain staff.

“Given the increasing difficulty of keeping staff, paying wages below the rate of our neighbours will cause Wandsworth problems.”

The issue was discussed at the Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee on November 22, where Conservative councillors voted down the recommendations by their seven votes to Labour’s four.

Councillor Melanie Hampton, who chaired the meeting, said afterwards: “The paper brought forward was not fully formed and Cllr Peter Graham in particular had any number of detailed technical queries that Cllr Gibbons could not answer in sufficient detail for us to debate.

“We all agreed that our aspiration was to consider these matters again at a future date but that this paper was too lacking in detail for us to be able to consider it at this time.

“Wandsworth is open for business and to assist and nurture business is vitally important.”

Labour councillors tabled an extra recommendation that said the council would “aspire to pay the London Living Wage to all indirect and direct employees”, but this was voted down too.

Conservative council leader Ravi Govindia has previously refused to look into paying contractors the LLW, in answer to a question from Labour councillor Jo Rigby in July.

Cllr Govindia claimed that because there is no evidence to suggest contractors’ workers live in the borough, it falls outside the council’s responsibility.

He also said the council “should not have a policy of interfering in the external market”, but emphasised the authority’s “very clear expectations” for the quality of service it expects.