The Government’s decision to deny under 25s the National Living Wage came under increased scrutiny yesterday as MPs debated the issue for the first time in Parliament.
From last month under 25s on low wage jobs began to earn less per hour than their older colleagues even those who are working in the same role. There is currently a 50p per hour difference in the minimum rate for those over 25 years of age and those younger than 25 and The Low Pay Commission predict that this will rise to a difference of £1.21 per hour by October 2020.
The debate, organised by Holly Lynch MP, saw Minister of State for Skills Nick Boles respond to criticisms that under 25s are being unfairly excluded from the National Living Wage rates.
The Conservatives have been repeatedly criticised for their labelling of young workers as unproductive. However in a written response to Holly before the debate Mr Boles conceded that “there are no official statistics estimating the productivity of workers by their age.”
Opposition MPs argued against the exclusion of young workers from the National ‘Living Wage’, criticising the fact that even young workers with years of experience in a role could be on a lower rate than a newly hired employee over 25.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Equalities Cat Smith claimed that under 25s face many of the same costs as older workers saying:
“I have never met a landlord who is willing to rent out a property for less money to someone who is under 25, or a baker who is willing to sell a loaf of bread for less because the person wanting to eat it is under 25. It costs us all the same to live.”
Speaking after the debate Holly, who has launched a campaign to reverse the decision, said:
“As one of Parliament’s youngest MPs I have spent my first year in the role with a growing sense of anger at the way in which the government treats people of my generation.
“It’s outrageous that under 25s are being told that they aren’t worth £7.20 an hour.
“Millions of hard working young people across the country face being paid less than their older colleagues, regardless of experience.”
“The Government need to act now to secure a fair wage for young workers and I’ll be working with young people and colleagues in Westminster to build pressure on the Government to rethink this unjust decision.”
To read Holly's full speech click here.