Labour to raise youth pay
Corbyn makes pledge to double wages for under 18s
Jeremy Corbyn: ‘time to end discrimination’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Wage rates for 16 and 17 year olds will more than double under plans by Labour to extend the living wage to more workers.
Labour will abolish the ‘youth rate’ of the minimum wage and ensure that workers who are under the age of 18 are paid a Real Living Wage at the same rate as their colleagues.
Workers under the age of 18 are currently only entitled to a minimum wage of £4.35 per hour, just over half the National Minimum Wage of £8.21 which is only paid to those aged 25 and over.
Labour’s pledge to extend the Real Living Wage of £10 per hour will make the average young worker better off by £48.45 per week, or £2,519 per year.
Average real pay for 16 and 17 year olds is still below its 2006 level, and young workers are more likely to be in insecure work and on zero hours contracts than their older colleagues.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the proposals were “dramatic” and that they could risk reducing the number of 16 and 17-year-olds in work.
A spokesman for the Institute of Directors, said: “Politicians directly setting rates will always risk not taking full account of the implications for employers and jobs.”
Matthew Percival, head of employment at the CBI, said: “The minimum wage is an important part of the UK labour market and must not be used as a political football. It owes its success to the Low Pay Commission, which is an expert, independent body that brings together business and trade unions to guide the national minimum wage.
“Youth rates play an important role in helping to reduce youth unemployment and should be retained.”
Labour will use fiscal savings arising from a reduction in the amount that the Treasury pays out in in-work benefits to provide targeted support for SMEs to enable them to pay the Real Living Wage to all staff, guided by the Living Wage Review Body.
The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today will criticise the Conservatives’ record, accusing the government of “discriminating against young people” by trebling tuition fees, scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance and failing to tackle the housing crisis.
Announcing the policy at a Young Labour event in Birmingham, Mr Corbyn is expected to say: “Equal pay for equal work is hardly a controversial idea, so why are we discriminating against young people?
“You don’t get a discount at the shops for being under 18. But if the person serving you on the other side of the counter is young, they could be on half the wage of their colleagues.
“It’s time to end this discrimination. Young people’s work should be properly valued, not exploited by employers to cut their wage bill. If they’re doing the job, pay them the wage – the Real Living Wage.
“So when Labour gets into power, we’ll abolish the Youth Rate of the minimum wage. Workers should be rewarded for their work, not their age. Equal rights for workers means just that – irrespective of age, gender, nationality or race.
“For a 16-year-old currently on the minimum wage, what I’m announcing today will mean a pay rise from £4.35 an hour this year under a Tory government, to £10 an hour next year under Labour – more than double. For the average 16-17-year-old in employment, that will make them more than £2,500 a year better off.
“Imagine what that will do for the lives of young people, especially those from poorer backgrounds. It will be nothing less than life changing.”
On the Conservatives’ record, Mr Corbyn is expected to say: “On issue after issue this Conservative government has failed young people.
“They’ve trebled your tuition fees. They’ve scrapped your Education Maintenance Allowance. They’ve made it nearly impossible to move out of your parents’ home because rents are sky high. And as for buying a house, that’s an idea from another generation because they haven’t built any. They’ve closed youth centres, cut arts funding, and are risking your entire future by failing to tackle the climate emergency.
“Labour will give young people hope: a Real Living Wage at work, and education as a right, not a privilege. Because we want everybody, regardless of their background, to be able to reach their full potential. That’s what socialism is really about.”