In what is becoming an all too familiar pattern across Tameside, Greater Manchester and the country more widely, more and more working people and families are struggling due to low pay and the increased cost of living.
As a local MP I find myself speaking to constituents every week who keep on telling me the same thing – that they work hard and that they often have more than one person in their household in work, yet they are finding it impossible to make ends meet.
I regularly speak to couples who work long hours but cannot see themselves being able to move from a rented flat to their own home. Parents keep on reporting to me that they’re continuing to struggle with increased childcare costs which is often leaving at least one parent unable to return to work as they cannot meet the cost of care.
Yet the government’s re-branding of the minimum wage to the national living wage hasn’t dealt with the real problems of low pay and rising cost of living.
Low rates of pay mean that many families can only manage to pay their bills with the help of tax credits with the gap of inequality in our country growing wider each year.
Higher wages can drive high productivity; but under this Conservative Government, wages in the North West have fallen by 6.7% in real terms between 2009-2017, compared to a rise of 1.2% from 2002 to 2009.
It is a sign of the Government’s complete economic failure that productivity and real wages are lower now than they were 10 years ago. Labour understand what this failure means to families which is why we intend to take measures to boost wages, including a commitment for a £10 an hour minimum wage by 2020. But it’s not just families who are struggling, young adults have been ignored by the Government for too long.
Today under-25s are losing out on thousands of pounds a year without the National Living Wage, new research has found. The study, conducted by the Young Women’s Trust, shows that without the National Living Wage, over a million under 25s are being paid up to £3.45 an hour less than over 25s for the same job.
Young people have been devalued by this government – not least by having university tuition fees increased. It is time to end this discrimination and to ease the burden on young people, and show them that they are valued members of our society.
Which is why Labour will abandon lower statutory minimums for 18-24 year olds, making all adults entitled to the Real Living Wage. This means that 21-24 year olds currently earning the National Minimum Wage will be better off by over £4,500 in 2020.
It’s about time people received equal pay for equal work.
 Source: ONS, Annual Survey of Hourse and Earnings (ASHE) 2008-2017, CPI: ONS series D7BT