This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the National Minimum Wage, a policy which boosted pay without leading to a loss of jobs.
Before it was introduced, some people were paid as little as £1 an hour. For example, the Low Pay Unit found someone working in a chip shop earning just 80p an hour. It also found a factory worker earning £1.22 an hour and a residential home worker earning £1.66 an hour.
Many people bitterly opposed the introduction of the minimum wage legislation and now low pay has got worse under this Government, with the National Minimum Wage having been undermined. Families are on average £1,600 a year worse off since 2010 and the value of the minimum wage has declined by almost 5% during the same period.
The Government is completely failing to properly enforce the minimum wage with only two prosecutions in four years for firms paying below the National Minimum Wage, despite evidence that as many as 300,000 people in the UK earn less than the National Minimum Wage.
At a time when families are being hit by a cost of living crisis, I would like to see the Government take action to restore the value of the National Minimum Wage and do more to encourage employers to pay a living wage. I am also calling for a tenfold increase in penalties for rogue companies that don’t pay employees the minimum wage and more effective enforcement, including by giving local authorities new powers.