September 15, 2020
This is our tenth annual Low Pay Britain report. Naturally, the focus of the report this year is on the coronavirus crisis: its impact on the low paid, and what this means for minimum wage policy.
The low paid have already suffered the worst of the economic effects of this crisis; they are more likely to have lost their job, or hours and pay, or to have been furloughed. They also suffered the greater health risks – they were less likely to be able to work from the safety of their homes. Unfortunately, the worst of the labour market fall-out from this crisis is still to come, with the economic effects of the pandemic ongoing and the Job Retention Scheme being wound down.
This creates a challenging and highly uncertain environment in which to set minimum wage policy. The Low Pay Commission (LPC) would have expected to be raising the National Living Wage (NLW) by around 50p this year. Instead, a lower uprating of around 15p is more likely. But this is still consistent with sticking to the longer-term aim of ending low pay by 2024. The Government should stick to this plan, and indeed built on it with other measures to improve the working lives of the low paid, including new and stronger labour market rights.