Labour is promising to tackle low pay that is keeping working people in poverty. In West Somerset, research from the GMB union has shown that 43 per cent of workers get less than the living wage – making the district the worst paid in the country.
Labour’s district council candidate for Alcombe, Andy Lewis, said:
“People in low paid and insecure jobs have suffered badly under this government. Here in West Somerset, far too many people are struggling to buy food and pay their bills. I meet many people who rely on benefits to boot their incomes when they would rather have decent wages that would let them pay their own way.
“The living wage of £7.85 an hour should not be too much to ask. Labour will make it worthwhile for firms to increase the wages of their lowest-paid staff.”
The squeeze on living standards has brought a sharp increase in the number of people asking for help from the West Somerset Foood Cupboard. The co-ordinator, Christine Payne, said:
“Many families receiving food boxes are working families, and people assume that if someone’s working they have a stable financial situation, but that’s not the case. I put this down to stagnant wages which just can’t match the increasing cost of living.”
A Labour government will take two steps to boost wages
• The minimum wage will go up to £8 an hour by 2020, bringing it closer to average earnings and booosting the spending power of the lowest paid.
• Firms will get a tax incentive if they agree to pay their workers the living wage. This will be funded from the increased tax and national insurance revenue received by the treasury.
The shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, said:
“The national minimum wage is one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government – raising pay at the bottom without risking jobs. Now, it must evolve to address the new, broader problem of low pay that faces us today, not simply extreme exploitation.
“The rise to £8 an hour is based on a proposed target to increase the minimum wage from 54% to 58% of median earnings by 2020 following consultation with business. Labour will ensure that those doing a hard day’s work are rewarded for doing so. “