#Budget2015 fallout: George Osborne’s ‘living wage’ pledge condemned as a “con trick”


Critics of the ‘living wage’ announcement claim it is merely a new minimum wage

CHANCELLOR George Osborne’s announcement in the 2015 budget that the Tory government will introduce what he termed a PS9 ‘living wage’ by 2020 has been dismissed as a “con trick” by politicians and activists from various parties and organisations.

Critics of the ‘living wage’ claim have argued that it in fact amounts to a new minimum wage, and does not take into account the financial impact that cuts to welfare will have.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney was quoted in The Herald as saying: “This Budget is a series of con tricks to try and hide the fact that individual households will now bear the brunt of austerity cuts.

“I support a meaningful living wage paid for by business – one that pays what people need to live, not one that fails to compensate for cuts to valuable tax credits.”

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray added to the criticism of Osborne’s budget, accusing the Tories of “giving with one hand and taking away with the other”.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also objected to Osborne’s characterisation of the PS7.20 pledge, which will take effect next year and rise to PS9 by 2020, as a ‘living wage’, pointing out that the Living Wage Foundation has calculated PS7.85 as the minimum hourly wage needed to cover the basic cost of living outside London, and PS9.15 within London.

Sturgeon has argued that the current legal minimum wage, which is PS6.50 for those 21 years of age and over, should be raised.

Osborne made the announcement during Wednesday’s emergency budget, which was the first all-Tory budget in almost two decades.

A further PS12bn in welfare cuts were announced, falling most heavily upon young people and those claiming benefits.