National Minimum Wage

Part of Opposition Day — [6th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 1:19 pm on 15th October 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Portsmouth, The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change 1:19 pm, 15th October 2014

It is absolutely true that the long-term and fundamental way to support the increase in productivity is to ensure more rigorous education and more skills, which is why we increased the number of apprenticeships. We are on track to have 2 million apprenticeships started in this Parliament, and we are clear that we will deliver 3 million in the next Parliament. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that education and skills underpin the long-term advance of prosperity for everyone in this country. I suggest that he would support the Government’s policies to strengthen education if he was truly interested in supporting a long-term increase in productivity.

We have discussed enforcement, the increase in the budget for enforcement and the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. We have quadrupled the maximum penalty to £20,000—per worker, not per firm. As a result, the amount from enforcement has increased from £2.6 million in 2003 to £4.6 million today. We know that a strong minimum wage must be properly enforced.

My third and final point is that the true champions of the low paid know that the minimum wage is only one tool among many. We are reforming welfare so that it supports people into work rather than trapping them in poverty, and we are letting people keep more of what they earn. Thanks to our rise in the tax threshold, a typical taxpayer already pays £700 less income tax than in 2010. The tax bill of someone working a 30-hour week on the minimum wage has been cut by two thirds. In the next Parliament, we will abolish income tax for those working full time on the minimum wage. We can do that only because we are prepared to make difficult decisions on spending.

It seems that the Labour party does not want to make those difficult decisions. Perhaps the shadow Minister will explain why all we have heard from it is taxes on jobs, taxes on business, taxes on homes, pensions, investments, taxes on driving and now even taxes on death.