Ahead of Living Wage Week (5th – 11th November) Plaid Cymru has called on the British Government to increase the so-called ‘National Living Wage’ to the Real Living Wage, to boost disposable income.
The previous Tory Government re-branded the National Minimum Wage as the National Living Wage in the 2015 summer budget but at £7.50 an hour is still nearly £1 below the Real Living Wage.
Raising the National Minimum Wage to the Real Living Wage would boost wages by nearly £2000 with 21-25 year olds earning minimum wages benefitting from a pay rise of nearly £2,700 a year.
The call follows a decision by the Central Bank to increase interest rates from 0.25% to 0.5%, leading to a cut in disposable income to many households as the cost of housing will increase. It also follows analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showing Westminster welfare policies will lead to a substantial rise in child poverty across the UK, with Wales set to see the biggest increase.
Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“Rebranding the minimum wage as a living wage does not make it so. Workers on the National Living Wage are still not being paid enough on which to live, but the British Government can get away with telling people they are.
“With the cost of living soaring, thanks to the British Government’s insistence on tearing up all economic links with Europe and the rise in interest rates, households are being squeezed to the limit.
“Disposable income is falling as wages struggle to keep up with the increased cost of living and ultimately that will lead to people spending less money, leading to yet another economic decline.
“The British Government urgently needs to change course, and boosting wages is the first step to take.
“Increasing the National Living Wage to the Real Living Wage would lead to a pay rise of between £1,800 a year and £2,700 a year, which would drastically improve standards of living for those on the bottom end of the pay scale.
“The Welsh Government must also play its part in increasing wages across Wales. The Labour-run Welsh Government is now the only Government that has not committed to lifting the cap on wages in the NHS and the public sector. Even the Tories have gone further than the Labour Party in Wales.
“More money in people’s pockets means more money being spent in shops and businesses, building a stronger economy which enables better public services. Plaid Cymru is committed to lifting the public sector pay cap in Wales and increasing the National Living Wage to a Real Living Wage.”