The government is messing low paid workers around for political capital

It's a shame the government has to mess around millions of low paid workers for a relatively small amount of political capital.

Something strange is going on.

Usually, when the Low Pay Commission recommends an increase in the national minimum wage (NMW), the full report is published along with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (DBIS) decision to accept or reject the recommendation.

This time around, however, things have taken a different course, suggesting internal tensions between Number 10, the Treasury and DBIS over the NMW announcement.

On February 27, the Low Pay Commission published the executive summary of its 2014 report and an accompanying letter to the business secretary Vince Cable. In it it set out its recommendation that the adult rate of the NMW should be increased by 3 per cent to £6.50 an hour from 1 October 2014.

Yet this was not followed by an official annoucement as to whether the recommendations would be accepted by the government or not.

Likewise, in David Cameron’s speech at the Manufacturing Technology Centre on Tuesday the PM said he “look[ed] forward to accepting this recommendation”.

Yet still the government has declined to make a formal acceptance of the recommendation (despite reports like this one in the press).

Now why could this possibly be?

Well, it looks as if the government is hoping for several media bites of the cherry on its trumpeted rise in the NMW, presumably culminating in an official announcement by George Osborne in the Budget later this month.

The rise should be welcomed of course; but it’s a shame the government has to mess around millions of low paid workers for a relatively small amount of political capital.

2 Responses to “The government is messing low paid workers around for political capital”

  1. Richard Dunstan

    Well, OK, but let’s be honest – how many minimum wage workers spend their lives waiting for the next pronouncement on the NMW by George Osborne or – it could happen – Ed Balls or Chuka Umunna? I imagine they have more important things to think about, like how to pay this month’s rent/mortgage, or how to buy the next meal for the kids. And at least Osborne has included a figure in his political game-playing: £7.00 per hour.

    BUT, where is Labour’s figure? Or would that be messing minimum wage workers around for a relatively small amount of political capital?

    Politicians playing political games with real life issues? Whatever next?

  2. adrian belville

    The Tories hate to admit it, but the NMW was something they hated the thought of. They believed it was a Labour plot to win votes. The fact it is a very well constructed Keynsian policy to increase the consumer base as well as reduce benefit payouts, was lost on them. Now they have learnt from it and would like a b larger increase. But they know that Vince Cable, the business secretary who recommended the amount of increase has some credence with the public and their very own economy ‘thick’ supporters wouldn’t stomach it. So they need to go through the act of considering the rise and then make it sound ‘savvy’ when Osborne announces his budget. Pathetic isn’t it?

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