The minimum wage rises ... by all of 7p

First, credit where it's due. In my opinion introducing the minimum wage was one of the better things Labour did. If we want to move people out of poverty (something that we are singularly failing to do) this is one of the best tools by which to do it, not least because it should act to make being in work more attractive than being on benefits.

But only 7p? It works out at about 1.2%, but that is pretty derisory. To put this year's rise into perspective the minimum wage rose by 17p in 2007, and by 21p in 2008. Even in these difficult economic times the government should have insisted on it being more. What would another 10p add to the wage bill of someone working a 35 hour week? Only £3.50 ... plus a little more for employer's NI.

To put that into the prespective of this week's big scandal, would that really bump up the price of having your moat cleared, or the Wisteria on your chimney removed?

The only silver lining is that the rate will apply to those 21 and over, as opposed to the current 22 or over, from 2010. But for the life of me I can't see why it shouldn't apply to everyone over 18.


And, while on the subject, it's also worth noting that the minimum wage is not very well enforced. There have only been a handful of prosecutions in the UK as a whole. Yet in Wales there were nearly 800 instances of firms not paying it and all the signs point to the situation actually being far worse than that. In 2005-6 the rate of non-compliance in investigated cases was a huge 32%. Wales had just 8 investigators, all based in Cardiff.

For references to the figures, look at this post I made in the Wales Online forum last year.

Leanne Wood has also raised the issue here, here and here on her blog.

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