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Government Departments: Real Living Wage

Cabinet Office and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of David Linden David Linden SNP Whip

If he will make it his policy to (a) introduce the real living wage in all Government Departments and (b) seek accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation.

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I am pleased to tell the House that from 1 April, the Government increased the national living wage by almost 5% to £8.21 per hour, which gives an annual pay rise of almost £700 to full-time workers on the national living wage. That is our preferred approach to addressing low pay across both the public and private sectors.

Photo of David Linden David Linden SNP Whip

Of course, the national living wage is not a real living wage, and it does not apply to under-25s, so that is a load of mince, frankly. Why would the Government want to perpetuate age inequality in terms of pay? Is the Minister proud of the fact that this Government actively discriminate against young people, including his own civil servants?

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

I find it extraordinary how the hon. Gentleman denigrates the national living wage. The national living wage has handed a pay rise of £3,000 to the lowest-paid workers since it was introduced, and it is rising faster than the real living wage. In respect of under-25s, we need flexibility for younger workers, to help them get into the labour market. That is a sensible compromise.

Photo of Chris Elmore Chris Elmore Opposition Whip (Commons)

The reality is that the Government’s living wage is not the living wage set by the Living Wage Commission, but putting that aside, can the Minister set out what representations he has made to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority to ensure that Members of this House can become living wage employers? My understanding is that it will not let us do that.

Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Relations with IPSA are a matter for the Leader of the House, not for a Cabinet Office Minister such as myself, but I have heard the hon. Gentleman’s representations and I am sure the Leader of the House will have heard them as well.