Labour vows to increase minimum wage to at least £10 an hour

Labour vows to ‘immediately’ increase the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour and scrap the Government’s ‘fatally flawed’ Universal Credit scheme

  • Shadow work and pensions secretary vowed to replace ‘flawed’ Universal Credit
  • Jonathan Reynolds said ministers ‘never willing to listen’ to criticism of scheme
  • He also said Labour would ‘immediately’ increase the minimum wage to £10 

A Labour government would ‘immediately’ increase the minimum wage to ‘at least’ £10 an hour, the shadow work and pensions secretary said today. 

Jonathan Reynolds said the wage hike would be part of ‘one seamless package’ of reforms to improve the lives of working people.  

Those reforms would also include replacing the Government’s ‘fatally flawed’ Universal Credit scheme. 

Mr Reynolds said ministers had ‘never been willing to listen’ to critics highlighting problems with the current system. 

He also used a speech in Manchester to appeal to Tory MPs to rebel over the Government’s decision to cut a £20 a week pandemic uplift to Universal Credit which is due to come to an end next month. 

A Labour government would ‘immediately’ increase the minimum wage to ‘at least’ £10 an hour, the shadow work and pensions secretary said today

Jonathan Reynolds said the wage hike would be part of ‘one seamless package’ of reforms to improve the lives of working people

Universal Credit was rolled out under the Coalition Government and saw a number of benefits merged into one single payment. 

Mr Reynolds said: ‘We need firm foundations for a strong recovery which is why Labour would promise a job or training opportunity for anyone at risk of long term unemployment. 

‘But we cannot fix our broken labour market without replacing Universal Credit.’

The Labour frontbencher said the Government had argued the coronavirus crisis had ‘validated’ the system – but he insisted the ‘reality is very far from that’.

He said: ‘The next Labour Government will replace Universal Credit because Universal Credit, as it stands, is fatally flawed. For too many people Universal Credit means food banks, housing arrears, sanctions and stigma. Now, the objectives of a simple, more seamless combined benefit were and are laudable.

‘But what’s remarkable is that the major problems of Universal Credit today, are still the ones first identified by constituencies like mine when they were pathfinders for the new benefit eight years ago. And the Government has never been willing to listen.’

Labour’s proposed replacement for Universal Credit would include a lower taper rate, allowing low-income workers to keep more of the money they earn. 

The taper rate refers to the rate at which benefits are withdrawn as a person earns more money. 

Mr Reynolds also pledged to increase the value of the minimum wage to ‘at least’ £10 an hour. 

As of April this year the minimum wage for people aged 23 and over was set at £8.91. 

He said: ‘The plans we have, to improve our social security system, should be considered as one seamless package alongside our New Deal for working people. That includes our ambition to give everyone full employment rights from day one and create one clear employment status for all employees.

‘Increasing the minimum wage immediately to at least £10 an hour, sick pay for everyone, protection against unfair dismissal, flexible working and the right to join a trade union, are all part of our plans for a new deal for working people.’         

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