New national living wage ‘unfair to young workers’

The SNP denounced the measure announced by Chancellor George Osborne in July's Budget as a 'con-trick'. Picture: PA
The SNP denounced the measure announced by Chancellor George Osborne in July's Budget as a 'con-trick'. Picture: PA
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YOUNG people on low pay will earn thousands of pounds less than older colleagues in the same job under the new national living wage, according to new analysis.

The national living wage, due to come in to effect in April next year, will guarantee £7.20 an hour to workers aged 25 and above.

Those under 25 will be paid the minimum wage, which from October is set to rise to £6.70 for over 21s and £5.30 for 18 to 20-year-olds.

The hourly rate for 16 to 17-year-olds will increase to £3.87 while apprentices will receive £3.30.

The SNP has highlighted research by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre showing that under 18s would therefore earn almost £6,500 less than people over 25, with 18-20-year-olds £3,705 worse off and apprentices £7,605 short.

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SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald said the analysis revealed the measure announced by Chancellor George Osborne in July’s Budget as a “con-trick”.

He said: “We already knew that young people were the hardest hit by the budget - now we know that they will earn thousands less than colleagues doing the same job.

“Apprentices, already discriminated against by UK National Minimum Wage policy, will now earn £7,605 less than the National ‘Living Wage’.

“These young people - who are contributing to our economy - should be paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work the same as any other worker.

“We will continue to make the strong case for the devolution of employment policy and the National Minimum Wage in the Scotland Bill so we can extend the Scottish Government’s progressive approach to pay, reduce inequalities and grow our economy.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “For younger workers, the priority in those first years is to secure work and gain experience - something that is already reflected in the National Minimum Wage rate structure where the youth rate is currently £1.40 lower than the adult rate.

“Youth unemployment is higher than for those over 25 - 16.1% compared to 5.5%. So we’re rightly more cautious for this group.

“The wages of younger workers will continue to be underpinned by the core National Minimum Wage as recommended by the LPC (Low Pay Commission) at the highest possible level without costing jobs.”