At the Spending Review on 25 November, the Government announced that the national living wage would increase from £8.72 per hour to £8.91 per hour in April 2021. While this was not the minimum wage freeze that reports stated the Government was considering, neither was it the 5.6% increase – to £9.21 per hour – that was previously planned.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, some of the country’s lowest paid workers had just gone through the longest wage squeeze in two centuries. They should be rewarded for working around the clock to keep people safe and keep the country going, not made to pay the price for the recovery.
It is simply wrong that so many of the key workers, who this crisis has shown we cannot survive without and who are the backbone of our economy and our society, are being paid wages that they can barely survive on.
Furthermore, downgrading the minimum wage increase originally planned for April will not only have an impact on household budgets, it will also pull spending out of our local economies – our small businesses and high streets – at a time when they are already under severe pressure.
I believe that we need to end poverty wages for workers and increase the minimum wage to a level that people can actually live on – a real living wage of at least £10 an hour. We should also end the age discrimination that sees workers under 25 earn less, simply because they are younger.
I can therefore assure you that I will continue to fight to ensure that every worker earns a decent wage for their work. I believe that this is a fundamental right.