National Living Wage to at least £11 per hour
Conservative Party Conference to Announce Significant Policy Change
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is set to announce a significant policy change, in a bid to shift the focus of the ongoing Conservative Party Conference.
Amid escalating debates over high levels of taxation, Hunt’s announcement aims to position the Conservative Party as champions of “workers versus shirkers.”
The centrepiece of this announcement is the plan to increase the National Living Wage to at least £11 per hour starting from April next year, benefiting approximately two million of the lowest-paid workers in the country.
In addition to the minimum wage increase, Hunt is also set to introduce stricter sanctions on benefit claimants who refuse to seek employment, potentially affecting up to 100,000 individuals.
Hunt’s announcement comes as a response to the growing demand from senior Tories, including some ministers, to lower taxes before the upcoming election. However, Sunak has been cautious about committing to tax cuts before the election, emphasising the importance of combating inflation.
As the debate over tax cuts continues within the Conservative Party, there is increasing pressure to prioritise tax cuts that benefit workers rather than wealthier individuals and older voters. The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently warned of a record increase in taxes per household since 2019.
Terry Payne, Global Managing Director of leading recruitment agency Aspire, expressed his views on this anticipated development, stating:
“This has been a long time coming and could start to make a difference to millions of people struggling to make ends meet and finding themselves falling into more debt every month. Another 58p or so an hour might not sound like a lot, but across a month, it might just mean that people who can’t pay their rent or mortgage or put food on the table for their family are able to do so. It’s certainly a step in the right direction, but more could and should be done by the government.”
Ben Harrison, Director of the Work Foundation at Lancaster University, said:
“It is welcome that the Chancellor has announced the National Living Wage will increase by to at least £11 per hour in April 2024.
“But the Government is seriously mistaken if they think toughening sanctions for some of the most vulnerable people in society will result in more people in good quality, secure and long-term employment.
“Pushing people into ‘any job’ will not alleviate worker shortages that some sectors are facing, and the Department for Work and Pensions’ own evidence from 2020 suggests sanctions are not effective and slow people’s progress back into work.
“To tackle persistent worker shortages amidst record long-term illness we need to avoid more punitive measures and focus on tailored support for jobseekers with different needs, and a renewed drive to work with employers to increase the quality of jobs on offer.”
The Conservative Party Conference is set to be a pivotal moment in the ongoing political debate over tax cuts and the cost of living crisis. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of a significant policy change will be closely watched, as it could have a major impact on millions of workers and businesses across the UK.