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Wage Levels

Volume 568: debated on Wednesday 9 October 2013

Since this Government took office, wages and salaries growth have revived, and nominal growth in 2012 of 2.8% was the strongest since 2007.

I am sorry to disappoint the Minister, but average wages in Flintshire have fallen since the general election, and more than 300,000 people in Wales are currently earning less than the living wage. I support aspiring to a living wage. Does he?

What I support is creating the right conditions for the private sector to create new jobs in Wales. In the right hon. Gentleman’s area in north Wales we anticipate that 40,000 new jobs will be created in the next five years. He should get out and back the support for balanced recovery that will bring benefits to his constituency and across north Wales.

Real wages have gone down in 38 of the 39 months since this Government came to power. Zero-hours contracts, payday loans and flouting of minimum wage law, on top of rising energy, food, and transport bills, have left my constituents feeling vulnerable. Has the Minister any plans to deal with falling living standards?

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is another Labour Member who does not welcome the fact that unemployment has fallen in his constituency since the general election. We recognise that wage levels are not where we want them to be, but most of the deterioration in wage levels happened in the last three years of the previous Labour Government. We are helping people in Wales on low incomes by taking 130,000 people out of income tax altogether, and by freezing fuel duty. Because we have taken the responsible decision to cut the deficit, we are able to keep interest rates low, which means that low earners in his constituency, and mine, can hang on to their homes.

12. Does the Minister agree that the Labour party should be celebrating the fact that unemployment in a constituency such as mine is lower now than it was in 2010, and that we have 69,000 new private sector jobs in Wales, compared with 2010? The Labour party should celebrate success, not play down the economy of Wales. (900309)

I totally agree with my hon. Friend—Labour Members should celebrate the progress we are making in Wales. There is a lot more work to be done, but unemployment is lower. Rather than criticising the private sector in Wales, which they do time and time again, they should be championing business growth in Wales.

Has my hon. Friend, as part of his assessment, carried out a full review of Welsh employment and unemployment since 2010? Perhaps he could share that with the House.

We see a lot of positive things happening in the Welsh economy—businesses are growing. I am particularly excited when I go to north Wales and see some of the dynamic things happening in the private sector there, but we believe that this is a recovery for the whole of Wales.

15. Wages are down by 10% in my constituency, unemployment is stubbornly high and energy prices are soaring, yet the Government do not have a plan to freeze energy prices. VAT has taken money out of the economy in constituencies such as mine. What plans do the Government have to restore pride and confidence in businesses in Ynys Môn? (900312)

I am surprised to hear that question from the hon. Gentleman. His constituency is set to benefit from a huge level of private sector investment. We talk about the exciting things happening in north Wales and his constituency is one of the places that will benefit the most. He should back that.