Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith in minimum wage pledge


Labour leadership hopeful Owen Smith will promise the "biggest boost to living standards for a generation" with a pay rise for five million workers if he becomes the next prime minister.

The party would push the minimum wage up to £8.25 and force employers to give it to all adults on the payroll, not just the over-25s, he will pledge.

It would mean a pay hike worth thousands of pounds for struggling workers, the MP for Pontypridd will say as he sets out his stall for Labour's top job.

The lowest paid have been hit by a "perfect Tory storm" of falling wages, watered down rights and "cruel" cuts to social security that has caused the sharpest fall in living standards on record, he will claim.

In a speech in Milton Keynes, the former shadow work and pensions secretary will take a swipe at rival Jeremy Corbyn, telling party members that Labour needs a clear plan of action to deal with the problems, not "more slogans".

Increasing the minimum wage by £1.05 on its current rate would mean a £5,369 pay rise for employees aged between 18 and 20, a £2,821 hike for 21 to 25-year-olds and an extra £1,911 for over-25s, according to Mr Smith. 

The Government has said it is "committed" to raising the minimum wage annually.

Mr Smith will insist his plans would deliver a "true living wage" and end the "discrimination" against workers under 25.

Promising a "revolution in workers' rights", the former frontbencher will continue his attempt to grab support from Mr Corbyn with a string of reforms he insists will make Britain the "envy of the world" for employment rights and job security.

He will set out plans to turn the Low Pay Commission into a Living Wage Delivery Unit that would recommend pay increases and stop companies finding ways round the rules by reducing overtime or other perks.

A High Pay Commission would force companies to reveal pay ratios and look at introducing a cap on the gap between the top earners and average earners for private sector companies that provide public services, such as Capita and G4S, Mr Smith will pledge.

Mr Smith will say: "For the last six years, British workers have experienced a perfect Tory storm of falling wages, the watering down of workers' rights and cruel cuts to social security - resulting in the sharpest fall in living standards ever recorded for low paid British workers.

"In the face of this onslaught, what's desperately needed is not more slogans, but a clear plan of action which offers solutions.

"So as the next Labour prime minister, I would introduce radical plans to deliver the biggest increase in living standards in a generation.

"I am committed to delivering a real living wage for everyone over the age of 18 - ending the discrimination of those under 25.

"Increasing support for low-paid workers through our social security system - cruelly slashed by the Tories - and delivering a revolution in workers' rights to give people a strong voice at work."