Teesside Young Labour: Minimum Wage freeze is “effectively a cut for already struggling young people”

Teesside Young Labour today (19th March 2012) expressed disappointment at the news that the National Minimum Wage for under-21s would be frozen, despite the increasing cost of living.

The Government today accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation to freeze the National Minimum Wage for 16-17 year olds at £3.68 per hour and at £4.98 per hour for 18-20 year olds. The minimum wage for those aged 21 or above will increase by 11p to £6.19 per hour (approximately 1.8%), whilst it will increase by 5p per hour to £2.65 for apprenticeships (approximately 1.8%). The Consumer Price Index measure of inflation, however, is currently at 3.6%.

A spokesperson for Teesside Young Labour said: “Freezing the minimum wage is a kick in the teeth for young people who are struggling to afford the increased costs of transport, study and living. With inflation at around 3.6%, this freeze in fact represents a real pay cut for hundreds—if not thousands—of hard-working young people in Teesside.

Whilst the rise for apprentices and over-21s is to be partially welcomed, this nominal 1.8% rise still reflects a pay cut of 1.8% in real wages. Furthermore, it seems grossly unfair that whilst the pay of a 21 year old will be at least nominally increasing, the pay of someone a few months younger with exactly the same experience, doing exactly the same job will not necessarily be going up.”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said: “It is wrong for the Government to imply that the best way to tackle youth unemployment is to effectively cut the wages of young people in Teesside.

There is no strong evidence to suggest that the minimum wage has an adverse effect on employment. The reason companies are not hiring young people is not because of the National Minimum Wage, but because business has no confidence in this Government’s economic policy.”

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