Living Wage 'To Save Treasury Billions a Year' 344,000 WORKERS IN WALES EARN LESS THAN PS7.45 AN HOUR

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), December 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Living Wage 'To Save Treasury Billions a Year' 344,000 WORKERS IN WALES EARN LESS THAN PS7.45 AN HOUR


Byline: DAVID WILLIAMSON Political Editor david.williamson@walesonline.co.uk

A LIVING wage would change the lives of nearly 350,000 Welsh workers and save the UK Treasury more than PS2bn a year, according to two leading think tanks.

There are 344,000 people living in Wales who earn less than PS7.45 an hour - the amount calculated as the minimum wage needed for an acceptable standard of living.

More than three out of 10 Welsh workers (31%) earn below this level. The North East is the only area of Britain with a higher level (32%). Wales also has the lowest gross weekly earnings in the UK at just PS520.70, below Northern Ireland (PS536.10), Scotland (PS584.90) and London (PS813.80).

The Resolution Foundation and the IPPR claim the roll-out of the living wage would boost national earnings by PS6.5bn and result in the UK Government raising more income tax and paying out less in tax credits and benefits. In the new year the two think-tanks will launch a major report which will detail the impact of the policy on the public finances. It is estimated it would increase the public sector wage bill by PS1.3bn.

The Welsh Government also plans to stage an event on the living wage early in 2013 at which the findings of an advisory group on the subject will be presented.

The think-tanks acknowledge "an immediate shift to a universal living wage across all sectors may not be feasible" because of the impact on the jobs market.

The lower national minimum wage of PS6.19 is set at a level by the Low Pay Commission to avoid putting jobs at risk.

The latest research suggests the Treasury would collect more than half of the initial financial gains from a living wage - around PS3.6bn - through higher income tax payments and national insurance contributions, plus lower spending on benefits and tax credits. …

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