UK Government must end minimum wage ‘age discrimination’, says MP

UK Government under pressure to end minimum wage 'discrimination' and introduce a 'Real Living Wage' rate.

Alison Thewliss has called on the UK government to end age discrimination in UK pay for good in 2022 – after new figures revealed the gap in the minimum wage for younger workers grew to its widest ever level in 2021 and set to increase further this year.

Research from the House of Commons Library has revealed the gap between the highest and lowest age band rates has grown almost every year since the minimum wage was introduced, widening from 12.5% in 2000 to 92.9% this year. In 2022, it is projected to increase to 97.2%.

This year, the UK government lowered the highest minimum wage bracket from 25+ to 23+, however this still doesn’t eradicate age discrimination or tackle poverty.

The minimum wage for those aged 23 and over is currently £8.91, for 21-22 year olds it is £8.36, for 18-20 year olds it is only £6.56, for 16-17 year olds it is just £4.62, and for apprentices it is £4.30.

According to the Low Pay Commission, there were an estimated 2 million workers paid at or below the minimum wage in April 2020 – around 7% of all UK workers.

While employment powers remain reserved to Westminster, the SNP will continue to lead the campaign calling on the UK government to introduce a Real Living Wage for all workers, which as of April 2022 will be £9.90 – still higher than the UK government’s highest national minimum wage rate.

Commenting, the SNP MP said:“The gap between those on the higher and lower rate of the minimum wage has been growing steadily under the Tories at Westminster.

“This year, I am urging the Tory government to do the right thing and finally end age discrimination in UK pay levels by bringing in a real living wage for all workers. Your age shouldn’t determine what you are paid.

“The UK already has the highest percentage of low paid workers in north west Europe, as well as the worst poverty and inequality levels – yet millions of workers are still on poverty pay under this broken Westminster system.

“Bringing in a Real Living Wage is vital after a decade of Tory austerity, Boris Johnson’s hard-Brexit and the coronavirus crisis, which has deepened inequalities – and it is the very least this UK government should be doing.

“In stark contrast, more employees in Scotland are earning the real living wage of £9.50 per hour or higher than in other parts of the UK – and with power over employment law, Scotland could end this age discrimination with a Real Living Wage for all.”

She added: “Young workers in Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act. That is why we need the full powers of independence – it is the only way to secure the strong, fair and green recovery we all want to see for Scotland.”

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