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National Living Wage Increase: A Step in the Right Direction?

23 October 2023

Gregory Devine

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A jar full of pennies.

Jeremy Hunt announced earlier in October the National Living Wage would increase from £10.42 to £11. It’s a good start but is it enough to help with the cost-of-living crisis? For those who aren’t aware, the national living wage is different from the national minimum wage. It’s the lowest amount workers aged 23 and over can be paid. It’s not a recommendation, it's the law.

Annually, the government determines wage rates after considering guidance from the independent advisory body, the Low Pay Commission. Typically, the commission's recommendations are accepted by the ministers. The government had previously established a goal for the national living wage, aiming to attain a level equivalent to two-thirds of median hourly pay by October of the upcoming year. While the Low Pay Commission has yet to officially confirm its recommendations for the next year, it anticipates that the wage rate required to meet the government's objective will fall within the range of £10.90 to £11.43.

A care assistant was interviewed by the BBC saying that a pay raise would “help for now” but with the costs of necessities like food and fuel constantly rising she felt her wages would still be “playing catch up”. That being said it would still help and she and her partner might be able to cover bills and put money aside for savings.

It says so much about the state of the country right now when a wage increase, that still isn’t really enough with inflation, might just allow a household to have barely enough income for bills and possibly some savings. That should be a given in this country. There is no way in the 21st century we should find people struggling just to live in Britain. There’s enough money in this country for that to be possible yet the greed of corporations still prevails.

I feel it’s very important to point out this wage increase is only for people 23 and above. What about young people who have a family? They still need to provide for their children. I struggle to see how age matters when you consider this. Is the government saying your family doesn’t matter as much if you’re young?

Some people might say benefits are the answer here. That would be ironic as Jeremy Hunt announced ministers would be looking once again at the benefits system and the requirements for applying to certain benefits. He said this was due to things “going in the wrong direction” due to around 100,000 people leaving the workforce each year for what Mr. Hunt described as a “life on benefits”. Once again the Tories aren’t really interested in helping people during a time when they really need it.

A lady sorting out her home finances

It feels like the general election is close but in truth, it’s not. The Tories don’t have to call an early one and in truth why would they when it’s obvious they wouldn’t win right now? It’s not until January 2025 that a general election must be called. We still have well over a year of Rishi Sunak and the conservatives. How long can this country survive without new ideas that focus on the entire point of a country, its people?

I read a lot on X (formally Twitter) people asking why a vote of no confidence cannot be called but this would require Tory MPs to vote against their own party. This is highly unlikely to happen. Even if some MPs did vote against their own party, the Conservatives have a huge majority meaning even if some Conservative MPs did want to change sides it would have hardly any impact on the vote.

The increase in the national living wage was needed and it certainly will help people. That being said I’m still sceptical as to whether it will be enough as the cost of living continues to rise. The Tories cannot just stop here, they must continue to serve the British people, do the right thing, and provide the necessary support for families up and down the country.

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