Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Don't Spend It All At Once

The government is to increase the minimum wage - by a pathetic 21p. Unless you are aged 18-21, in which case your minimum hourly wage will rise by an even more pathetic 17p. And if you are 16 or 17, you can salivate at the prospect of a minuscule 13p. A quick surf of online shopping reveals that teenagers could rush out and buy an economy peg to pin down ground cover in their gardens. Shame that one peg alone is useless.

The minimum wage is on the few things that New Labour can genuinely boast that it has done for the benefit of workers. Then it spoils it by setting it at such a miserly level that fewer benefit than could, and those who do benefit little.

Over the last year, I have taken part in several discussions - some more productive than others - about how to close the still-enduring gender pay gap. One obvious answer is: pay low-paid women more. And one easy way to do that is to increase the minimum wage - by a serious hike, not a paltry 21p.

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