Neil 'proud' of £7 minimum wage pledge

SCOTTISH Government workers will be paid a minimum of £7 an hour from August, it was announced yesterday

Housing minister Alex Neil said he was "proud" to announce the introduction of the "living wage" for employees of the Nationalist government. He said well-paid work was essential if people are to escape the poverty trap.

Mr Neil told a Holyrood debate on poverty: "People have a right not to be dependent on benefits, and to make progression into work.

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I'm proud to say that from August this year no-one in the employ of the Scottish Government will be paid less than a 7 an hour living wage."

The minister said he also welcomed the new UK coalition government's plans to increase the personal tax allowance – over time – to 10,000. He said: "That should help to make work pay and help encourage people to move from welfare to work."

Mr Neil said those most at risk of "persistent poverty" are pensioners, women, children and disabled people. He said about 17 per cent of people across the UK and 20 per cent of children in Scotland live in relative poverty.

The rate was lower among pensioners – dropping from 21 per cent to 16 per cent over the last year.