News | Published May 11 2019

Corbyn pledges to raise minimum wage for under-18s

Speaking at a Labour party event in Birmingham today, Jeremy Corbyn pledged to extend Labour’s plans for a £10-an-hour minimum wage to under-18s. 

Currently, the minimum wage for under 18s is set at £4.35 an hour, compared to £8.21 for over-25s. This forms part of Labour’s plans to raise the National Living Wage to £10-an-hour by next year if they take power.

Referring to this disparity as “discrimination”, he stated that “Equal pay for equal work is hardly a controversial idea, so why are we discriminating against young people?” 

Under this proposal, workers under the age of 18 would see their annual income rise by £2,500.

In order to fund this rise, Labour said it would employ savings gained by a reduction of in-work benefits to support small businesses to pay this living wage. This would be guided by the living wage review body.

Current wage rates are reviewed each year by the government, working alongside the independent Low Pay Commission. 

This commission is comprised of trade unionists, businesspeople and academics. Explaining the purpose of the lower wage for under-18s, they have previously argued that if this difference did not exist, younger workers could be overlooked for potential jobs in favour of older workers. The commission said that this would lead to “worse consequences if they end up unemployed.”

Explaining this decision, Corbyn said: “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.”

Concerns have been raised however about the effects of this rise. 

Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, described the plan as “really dramatic” and argued that: ““Clearly the risk, given the choice between doubling the wages you’re currently paying 16- and 17-year-olds or not employing them at all … is you will have fewer 16- and 17-year-olds in work,”

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
May 11 2019

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