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Government must introduce a minimum wage floor for job support – Labour MPs

“It’s called the National Minimum Wage for a reason – the Government needs to act to ensure that nobody is paid less than it.”

Richard Burgon MP

A group of 31 Labour MPs have written to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP, calling on him to ”introduce a minimum wage floor to financial support during this pandemic so no worker is paid less than the minimum wage.”

The letter, organised by Richard Burgon MP, raises the issue of the significant cut in pay that many minimum wage workers will soon be facing under the Government’s Job Support Scheme. The issue is particularly important as 8 million people in the UK will be living under the toughest ‘Tier 3’ restrictions from this week.

The letter notes that ”Minimum wage workers in workplaces forced to shut in very high virus areas will, from next week, be paid just two-thirds of the minimum wage under the Job Support Scheme. For workers aged 25 and over, this will be as low as just £5.81 per hour.”

The letter also acknowledges that ”A high proportion of workers in the sectors hit hardest by this pandemic are paid the minimum wage, and many will already have lost a significant amount of their income as a result of this pandemic.”

Labour MP for Leeds East Richard Burgon, who organised the letter, said “even before this crisis, many minimum wage workers were struggling to get by.  Now they are going to be forced further into poverty. 

“Given the cost of rent, bills and food have stayed the same, how can we expect people to manage on just two-thirds of the minimum wage?

“It’s called the National Minimum Wage for a reason – the Government needs to act to ensure that nobody is paid less than it.”

The Low Pay Commission estimates that there were 2 million workers paid at or below the minimum wage in April 2019, around 7% of all UK workers, and The Low Pay Commission estimates that nearly half (48%) of all jobs paying at or below the minimum wage are in retail, hospitality and cleaning & maintenance occupations

  • The full text of the letter (October 27) is as follows:

Dear Chancellor,

A Minimum Wage Floor in the Job Support Scheme

Minimum wage workers in workplaces forced to shut in very high virus areas will, from next week, be paid just two-thirds of the minimum wage under the Job Support Scheme.

For workers aged 25 and over, this will be as low as just £5.81 per hour, equivalent to the minimum wage level of 11 years ago. For younger workers it will be even less. 

Many workers in businesses not forced to close also face being paid less than the minimum wage.

No-one should ever be expected to live on less than the minimum wage.

Without such a minimum wage floor to the Job Support Scheme during this pandemic many of our constituents will receive pay that is completely inadequate to meet even their basic needs. Even before the pandemic many of them were struggling to make ends meet because of low pay.

A high proportion of workers in the sectors hit hardest by this pandemic are paid the minimum wage, and many will already have lost a significant amount of their income as a result of this pandemic. The Government has a responsibility to ensure that this public health crisis does not become a social crisis for millions of people.

The introduction of the minimum wage was an important step forward in the campaign against low pay and that must not be undermined during this pandemic.

We ask you to urgently review this matter and introduce a minimum wage floor to financial support during this pandemic so no worker is paid less than the minimum wage.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Burgon MP

Diane Abbott MP

Tahir Ali MP

Paula Barker MP

Apsana Begum MP

Olivia Blake MP

Ian Byrne MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Jon Cruddas MP

Mary Foy MP

Margaret Greenwood MP

Rachel Hopkins MP

Kim Johnson MP

Ian Lavery MP

Clive Lewis MP

Tony Lloyd MP

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP

John McDonnell MP

Ian Mearns MP

Grahame Morris MP

Kate Osamor MP

Kate Osborne MP

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP

Zarah Sultana MP

Jon Trickett MP

Claudia Webbe MP

Mick Whitley MP

Nadia Whittome MP

Beth Winter MP

Mohammad Yasin MP.

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