A council employment programme has come under fire for matching residents with jobs offering zero-hour contracts and less than London Living Wage.

Greenwich Local Labour and Business helps residents into work by pairing them with local job opportunities, working in partnership with organisations in the borough.

The service has been in operation for two decades, and in the last year has helped 1,222 new users into training or work.

However, last night council bosses admitted that “some of those people could potentially be on zero-hour contracts and not all those people will be employed in organisations paying London Living Wage”, sparking questions about the council’s principles.

Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy wanted answers as to why the council-funded employment service was engaging with “exploitative” companies.

Cllr Fahy said: “They simply take advantage of people through zero-hour contracts and not paying the LLW. They are then subject to issues around being paid trading benefits etc.

“Are there not principles we need to apply to this? As a council who clearly supports LLW, should that be our starting point?”

Council officers said GLLaB was about helping people become employable, and that training provided means people move into better paid, London Living Wage jobs.

Councillors were told: “People are supported through training and upskilling to help people look for work independently.

“GLLaB is not about supporting people into a job for just a first job, but it is about what we do in supporting people into better paid and successive jobs.

“Opportunities – such as Ikea – attract a lot of people who are already employed. We’ve set up specific initiatives for ring-fenced opportunities for unemployed people. But, naturally workers in the retail sector not being paid LLW would be attracted to a better paid job. We can’t influence the labour market.

“Our policies are proactively seeking to support people into LLW jobs and our aspiration is to do that.”

Cllr Chris Lloyd, chairman of the scrutiny meeting, said policies needed to be revisited.

He said: “Actually I think we are a considerable player in the market.

“GLLab receives significant funding, money is going through that channel and  employers outside the supply chain don’t adhere to our standards might then be benefitting from the people we send their way.

“Some of those policies do need to be looked at again with a view to curbing that.”