Boris Johnson’s minimum wage hike “falls short” of what is needed to fight in-work poverty, Labour said today.
The party has repeated calls for a £10 an hour minimum wage for all workers – regardless of age.
Almost 3 million workers are set to benefit from the “biggest ever” increase in the national living wage, ministers said last night.
Over 25s will see a 52p an hour increase to £8.72 from £8.21.
But the increase is still significantly lower than the ‘real’ living wage, set by the Living Wage Foundation, of £9.30 – or £10.75 in London.
And younger workers are still paid less, with 21 to 24-year-olds seeing a 50p increase from £7.70 to £8.20 an hour.
For 18-21s the new rate increases from £6.15 to £6.45 – while the minimum wage for under 18s will rise by just 20p an hour to £4.55.
Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “This announcement falls short of what is needed to help workers.
“It comes against a backdrop of an economy created by successive Conservative governments, which has left millions of people trapped in low paid, insecure work over the last decade. Underpayment of the minimum wage is on the rise.
“Labour is calling for at least £10 per hour for all workers aged 16 and over as part of a Real Living Wage that will tackle in-work poverty and the exploitation of young workers and a 5% pay increase for public sector workers to provide a better deal for working people.”
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said a £10-per-hour national living wage was needed immediately.
She said: “This is a long-planned raise, but it’s also long overdue. Workers are still not getting a fair share of the wealth they create.”
Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said the increase still did not take the minimum wage up to £9.30 – or £10.75 in London – which the charity calculates is the base level needed to cover the cost of living.
She said: “There are still over 5 million workers in the UK earning less than the real living wage.
“There is a still a gap between the Government minimum and the real living wage, independently calculated based on what it costs to live.”