Downing Street said it had no plans to pull the brake on the next minimum wage rise in April 2021 but added a pretty big caveat.
Fears have been raised that millions of workers could lose out on a planned increase in the National Minimum Wage because of damage done to the economy by COVID 19.
Reports began circulating on Sunday that Chancellor Rishi Sunak might not introduce the rise from £8.72 to £9.21 per hour in April, as a result of damage done by the pandemic.
A target had been set by the Chancellor that would see the National Living Wage – the minimum salary for over 25s increased to the equivalent of two-thirds of the country’s median earnings by 2024.
The promise to increase the rate also highlighted massively in the Tory manifesto at the last election, but confronted about the report, Downing Street refused to confirm the next rise will definitely happen as intended.
No 10 said the government still intended to introduce the move, but added a very important caveat, saying it was originally planned if economic conditions permitted.
The official spokesperson for Boris Johnson inquired about reports that the Treasury was contemplating pulling an emergency brake on the policy and said that he was not aware of any change to that situation.
However, he added at the Spring Budget, the Government reinforced its commitment to an ambitious target for the National Living Wage to reach two-thirds of median earnings by 2024, provided that economic conditions permit.
He continued that in terms of the latest set of recommendations from the Low Pay Commission for 2021, which they haven’t seen yet, that he didn’t believe they were expected to receive them until the autumn.
Britain’s economic conditions have changed dramatically in the last few months, as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK’s headline unemployment rate has lingered at 3.9 per cent since the lockdown was introduced thanks to the furlough scheme, but the Bank of England expects the rate to increase to 7.5 per cent by the end of the year as government-funded support schemes come to an end.
Shadow Exchequer Secretary Wes Streeting said those who had worked to keep the country going through the pandemic needed to be compensated.
He stated that when COVID 19 hit, some of the country’s lowest-paid workers had just gone through the longest wage squeeze in two centuries and that they should be compensated for operating round the clock to keep people safe and not made to pay the price for the recovery.
And it seems that these Tories certainly know how to use the coronavirus as it suits them – minimum wage, what’s next? But I’m sure that these MPs will get their annual salary hike, now at £80,000, plus their other business interests and the minimum wage days are numbered under the Tories and COVID 19 and Brexit will be condemned for putting unnecessary pressure on businesses.