Why the minimum wage should be £9 now

Let's not wait until 2020 to reach this level

Updated: 
Why the minimum wage should be £9 now

The increase in the minimum wage announced in the summer Budget is long overdue but it's still not coming soon enough for those who will, in the meantime, see their benefits eroded.

A study by Unison have found that families will not suffer a pay rise but a pay cut over the next five years – the time it will take for the minimum wage to increase to £9 – as it will coincide with cuts to tax credits next April.

The union calculates that a family where both adults work 35 hours a week on the minimum wage will lose £1,615 a year, rather than being £850 better off if no cuts to tax credits were made.

Being worse off until 2020 doesn't make the minimum wage rises sound like such a good deal now. The truth of the matter is that an increased minimum wage should have been introduced years ago and campaigners have long lobbied for the introduction of a living wage, which doesn't seem unreasonable.

Blocked by big business

So why is it taking so long for the £9 an hour minimum to be brought in? The cynic in me would suggest that it's the lobbying of big businesses that will keep wages below this level until 2020.

If the wages go up, the profits go down so it's not in the interest of business owners, or shareholders for that matter, for wages to go up.

This seems unfair considering businesses have got rich on the back of paying low wages and the implementation of zero-hours contracts, which means not only do they get away with paying poverty wages but also stripping employees of rights full-time ones would be entitled to.

I'm not saying all businesses are bad eggs, there are plenty out there who operate in their employees' favour because they know a happy workforce means happy customers which ultimately means more profits and happy shareholders.

But there are plenty out there who are using the rules to treat workers like disposable commodities, giving them a raw deal because they know there will always be someone desperate enough to take up a role should someone walk out.

Speeding up the slow climb to a £9 an hour minimum wage is the least businesses can do to make up for the benefits they have had and do the decent thing by their worker.

Read more:
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Tax pledge for low-paid workers
Budget 2015: national living wage introduced

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