The introduction of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in 1999 was a great achievement of the last Labour Government.
This policy ended the exploitation of millions of Britain’s workers and increased productivity without job losses. But the challenge we faced 15 years ago is different to the one we face today and the one we will face in the coming years.
That’s why Ed Miliband has announced Labour’s plan to raise the NMW to £8 an hour by 2020.
One in five British workers find themselves struggling on low pay, often relying on benefits or tax credits to top up their wage so they can simply afford the essentials, even though they often work long, hard hours. This can’t be right. If you work hard you should be able to bring up your family with dignity without relying on the taxpayer to make up the difference.
But under David Cameron and George Osborne often people are not getting the rewards because the Government’s recovery is only benefiting a privileged few.
I know people in North Northumberland who aren’t yet feeling the economic recovery.
So the next Labour government, working with businesses and the Low Pay Commission, will raise the NMW to £8 by 2020, a move that will put an extra £3,000 a year in the pockets of Britain’s lowest paid workers.
This is an important move that will end the scandal of five million Brits struggling to make ends meet because they are on low pay. But Labour understands that businesses need time to adjust their models to support higher wages. That’s why we will raise the NMW over the five years of the next Parliament so businesses will have enough time to plan for the long-term goal of £8 an hour by 2020.
The Tories are boasting that the economy is fixed but we’ve seen a recovery that is working just for the few. Labour’s plan for Britain’s future will ensure we become a country that rewards hard work again. That begins by guaranteeing that everyone in Britain should be able to live on the wage they earn.