Subscribe SYP Blog

Equal Minimum Wage/Living Wage

Statements – “People should be paid equally for doing the same job. There should be an equal minimum wage for all, including those in training.” 78.14%/14.61%/7.25%

“To tackle in-work poverty, the Scottish Government should set up a recognition scheme for employers that pay a Scottish Living Wage of at least £7 per hour to all employees, which is regularly reviewed to make sure it is meeting minimum income standards. 75.76%/10.46%/13.78%

Background

The Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage has existed in the UK since 1998 and is an issue reserved to Westminster. However, the rates of this are based on age. The main rate is currently £6.08 per hour for workers aged 21 and over but this falls to £4.98 for those aged 18-20, £3.68 for those aged 16-17 and £2.60 for apprentices aged under 19 or older if they are in the first year of their apprenticeship. If you’re under 16 (compulsory school age) you’re not entitled to a minimum wage.

In October the rate for those aged 21 and over will rise to £6.19, and the apprentice rate to £2.65. The rates for everyone aged 16-20 will not rise.

The situation where someone could be paid significantly less than someone doing exactly the same job, just because they are young still exists. According to research by the British Youth Council who have a long running campaign on the issue, 118,000 young people are being paid the youth rate in the UK. This situation has been criticised by international organisations – reports on the UK’s implementation of the UNCRC, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the European Social Charter have all criticised the policy for being discriminatory and for it to be scrapped or for the levels to be brought closer together. The UK Government has refused.

The SYP campaigned on the issue in 2007-08, and other supporters include UKYP, BYC and several other youth organisations across the UK.

In April 2012, the London School of Economics published a report, ‘Maximum wage: Maximum Impact’  that suggested that due to inflation the Minimum Wage is worth less in real terms that it was eight years ago. Amongst its recommendation was that the Low Pay Commission publish an estimate of what big companies in different sectors could afford without costing jobs, raising the pressure on them to pay more. Media coverage of this focussed on low paid young people who were particularly hard hit due to their age.

The Living Wage

The Living Wage is an hourly rate calculated according to the cost of living and presents the minimum pay rate required for a worker to provide themselves and their family with the life essentials. These are usually taken to include housing and utilities, food, and health care as well as transport and recreation.

At the March 2012 Sitting a Members Motion, “SYP believes the National Minimum Wage should be raised in line with the living wage, as calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy, in order to guarantee workers the decent standard of living they deserve” passed. This effectively ties our Minimum Wage and Living Wage policies together.

The CRSP calculate the UK Living Wage figure which is used by the Living Wage Foundation and other campaigners, as well as Living Wage employers. This is updated every year, and the current level is £7.20 per hour, significantly higher than the National Minimum Wage. They also conduct research into a Minimum Income Standard for different groups of people (e.g. young people, single people, couples with children etc.) based in part of the public’s perceptions of what are considered essentials to everyday life.  

The Scottish Government has introduced a policy of paying Government employees including NHS workers a living wage, and seven local authorities have also adopted this policy. Control over the minimum wage and legal requirements on what employers must pay their staff is reserved to the UK Parliament.

The Scottish Living Wage campaign includes an award to recognise living wage employers and campaigns on the issue. Supporters include the Poverty Alliance, the STUC, UNISON, the Church of Scotland amongst other organisations.

The Living Wage Foundation campaigns for a Living Wage across the UK and offers an accreditation scheme for employers.


Political Support

Minimum Wage statement

Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens ‘agree in full’. The SNP ‘agree in part’ and the Conservatives have no position.

In their response, the SNP said they “support the minimum wage – and believes that it should be linked to average earnings. While there should be a minimum wage for those in training, it is reasonable for that wage to be higher for those who are fully trained in their profession. However, it is important to stress that we believe this distinction should not be made on age – there must be no discrimination on the basis of age. The SNP’s support for those in training can be seen in our introduction of a minimum wage for agricultural apprentices for the first time in Scotland.”

Living Wage statement

Labour and the Greens ‘agree in full’. The SNP and Lib Dems ‘agree in part’. The Conservatives disagree.

In their response, the SNP said they “will introduce a living wage of £7.15 an hour for all Government employees.”

Labour’s response says they are “focused on fairness and are therefore committed to introducing a Scottish Living Wage of at least £7.15 per hour - starting in the public sector.”

Manifestos

The SNP manifesto repeated their commitment to a living wage for all Scottish Government employees, along with a minimum annual increase of £250 for employees earning less than £21,000.

Labour’s manifesto pledged a Scottish Living Wage starting in the public sector, along with establishing a Living Wage Unit to monitor its implantation and advise the Scottish Government on annual increases in the rate. Their ambition is to roll this policy out to other sectors and will use procurement contracts to ensure that the private and third sectors are living wage employers too.

The Greens’ manifesto pledged to establish a unit to monitor delivery of a living wage policy and gender inequality in public sector pay, and to uprate the living wage for all public sector employees annually, using the Joseph Rowntree Foundation minimum income standard - set at £7.15 per hour from April 2011.
They also pledged to actively encourage living wage agreements in the private and voluntary sector, including through government procurement guidelines.


Media Interest

Average


Overall 

As our policy on the Minimum Wage and Living Wage are now tied together, a campaign could focus on equalising the minimum wage at Living Wage standards. A campaign on this issue has the potential for several set pieces/photo opportunities highlighting the amount of money young people are missing out on each week for instance. This is a reserved issue so would involve campaigning to MPs and Westminster, possibly in a co-ordinated effort with other UK-wide. There is some momentum around the Living Wage in particular, but it would be difficult to achieve in a short time span. Any campaign could focus on employers and highlighting the amount young people are missing out on to build pressure. Other potential campaign activities could be to encourage private, public and voluntary sector employers to join the existing Scottish Living Wage Award scheme, to become living wage employers, or some sort of work with the existing Scottish Living Wage campaign.

This is very topical as a Living Wage for Scottish Government workers is being taken forward, and pressure is building in Scotland and the rest of the UK for employers to pay their workers a wage they can live on, with research indicating that the current National Minimum Wage is inadequate, with young people being particularly affected by this.

 


To help you get to know the five potential campaigns, you can find all the background info about each of them by clicking the links below!

Campaign Option - Equal Minimum Wage/Living Wage

Campaign Option - Up to date and effective PSE in schools

Campaign Option - Action on Student Poverty

Campaign Option - Action on Homelessness

Campaign Option - Education for Young Offenders

N.B. The percentages after each of the statements on the pages are from the Picture the Change consultation. They are in the following format – Agree/Disagree/Not sure. We didn’t ask young people which was their highest priority, so having a very high amount of agreement isn’t necessarily and indicator that the statement is a higher priority than one with a lower percentage – it just means that more young people agreed with the statement that was put to them. The statements of the political parties are from their responses to Change the Picture.