In a speech in Parliament yesterday Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, called for urgent measures to be taken to tackle the 'sickness' of low pay in the British economy.
Mr Blomfield said:
"The cost of living crisis isn’t just caused by rising prices, it’s also about depressed incomes. We are one of the richest countries in the world but we have a low wage economy, growing income inequality and an increasing number of working people who can’t make ends meet. For too many people part-time employment, the Minimum Wage and zero hours have become the norm.
"One sign of how work isn’t paying is that 47% of people who saw Citizens Advice with a payday loan problem between January and March were in work. I welcome the action taken to toughen regulation of payday lenders but let’s not just deal with the symptom of low pay. Let’s tackle the sickness at source. We need bold action to tackle low pay, and the Government’s Queen’s Speech is far wide of the mark."
In his speech Mr Blomfield called for the Government to introduce a raft of urgent measures to tackle low pay. They included:
- Ending the abuse of zero hours contracts by giving workers the right to proper contracts which reflect their real working hours;
- Stronger enforcement of the National Minimum Wage to crack down on employers who pay below it, and for Councils to be given responsibility for enforcement;
- Action to end the scandal of care workers not being paid for their travel time in between care visits;
- Resetting the role of the Low Pay Commission so it works to bring the National Minimum Wage closer to average earnings;
- Banning employers and recruitment agencies from recruiting exclusively from Eastern Europe and undercutting wages;
- New measures to encourage employers to pay the Living Wage – such as making it a requirement for any employer bidding to win a public procurement contract, and tax breaks for employers that adopt the Living Wage;
- And, introducing pay ratios within companies and putting workers on company remuneration committees to address growing pay inequality.
Notes for Editors
1. In June 2014 Paul Blomfield MP was awarded Parliamentarian of the Year by national charity Citizens Advice for his work campaigning to stop the payday loan rip-off.
2. Paul Blomfield’s speech can be read at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2014-06-11a.570.2&s=speaker%3A24943#g632.0
3. The speech can be watched at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b046vjrz/house-of-commons-11062014 (it begins at 4:51)