Paula Sherriff MP has raised concerns about local people being trapped in low pay as the latest figures show more than 5,000 people who live in Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton, earn the lowest wages they can legally be paid.
Government figures show that some 12% of workers in the Dewsbury constituency are on the lowest possible wage, which equates to 5,200 people, well above the national average of 7%. Dewsbury also falls into the top 50 nationally and has the third largest number in West Yorkshire, after Leeds Central and Bradford West.
While the principle of the minimum wage has been a success, introduced by Labour and accepted by successive governments, campaigners have argued that it is not set at a high enough level.
The National Living Wage, of £7.83 an hour, is the legal minimum for workers aged 25 and over. The National Minimum Wage is the minimum for people younger than that, and ranges from £4.20 an hour (for 16-17 year olds) to £7.38 (for 21-24 year olds).
The National Living Wage has been criticised for failing to provide those working full time with enough for a basic, no frills lifestyle. The Child Poverty Action Group has said that a single parent on the National Living Wage is £74 a week short of the minimum income needed, whilst the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have reported that four million workers are living in poverty – a rise of more than half a million over 5 years.
The Labour Party has pledged to raise the National Minimum Wage to £10 an hour for all workers aged 18 or over by 2020, and to extend full rights to all workers entitling everyone in insecure work to sick pay, maternity rights, and the right against unfair dismissal from day one of their employment.
Paula Sherriff MP said;
“Too many local people tell me they are just about managing – their financial situations are so precarious, they can’t be certain what they’re going to earn from one week to the next.
“Together with the growing trend of precarious and insecure work, low pay can mean people are just a few days away from being on the street.
“It is not acceptable that many workers face a lifetime of being trapped in low pay and poverty. A higher minimum wage is one measure that would help people achieve an acceptable living standard, pay off debts and meet the pressure of rising bills. We need to break the vicious cycle of low pay in low quality, insecure jobs and move from low pay to living pay”.