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Minimum Wage

Volume 523: debated on Monday 14 February 2011

16. What account his Department takes of the effects of the level of the minimum wage in its business planning processes. (39818)

Departmental business planning processes take account of the minimum wage in the potential effect on the future pay bill and in departmental contracts. For some years, the Department for Work and Pensions has targeted pay awards towards our lower paid staff, and the lowest level of pay for directly employed DWP staff is currently £7.27 an hour compared with the 2010 national minimum wage of £5.93 an hour.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one way of making the big society even bigger would be to give freedom to individuals to take employment with charities at below the minimum wage?

I have to say that I do not share my hon. Friend’s view. What I would say to employers up and down the country is that I hope they will take advantage of the increased numbers of apprenticeships that are paid at special apprenticeship rates in order to allow people to develop the skills they need to build future careers.

Will the Minister assure the House that during internal Government discussions he will support the minimum wage that the Labour Government introduced and make sure that for each year over the next four years it rises by at least the level of inflation?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, Conservative Members have supported the national minimum wage for many years—and will continue to do so.