National Minimum Wage

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 12:41 pm on 15th October 2014.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 12:41 pm, 15th October 2014

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. I could not agree more with him.

My second point is that, up to now, the minimum wage has been set with a view to its short-term impact over the coming year. The Low Pay Commission is asked to describe the labour market as it is when it sets the rate, six months before the rate comes into force. It sets the context and gives the rate, but it does not give any guidance on how a higher level can be reached. Therefore, a Labour Government will set a target to increase the minimum wage from its current level of 54% of median earnings to 58% of median earnings by 2020, to be implemented by the Low Pay Commission during the next Parliament.

Forecasts show that that will take the minimum wage from £6.50 this year to £8.00 in October 2019—I can see Guy Opperman looking up at me, but I will come to his point on the forecasts of £8.06. That long-term target will give businesses time to plan and to adapt their business models to boost productivity to support the higher level. The international evidence shows that countries can support minimum wages with such a measure, which could give us a similar level to that in Australia and other EU countries.