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Living Wage

Volume 574: debated on Monday 27 January 2014

15. What steps she is taking to ensure all directly employed and contract staff who work in her Department are paid the living wage. (902179)

Directly employed Home Office staff are already paid above the living wage, and we are working with our suppliers to ensure that agency workers are paid in line with Home Office pay levels. Contract staff working in the Home Office are paid above the minimum wage, but decisions on pay rates are for their employers.

The Home Office lags behind some other Departments, including the Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions and No. 10, which are already living wage Departments. Does the Minister agree that Whitehall should lead from the front in tackling low pay and in-work poverty, and will he agree to meet representatives of the Living Wage Foundation to discuss how the Home Office can be accredited as a living wage employer?

We do encourage the living wage, as the hon. Lady will know from the statements she refers to. I am pleased to say that the Home Office pay settlement for the past year focused on enhancing the pay of its lowest-paid staff who, as a result, received significant increases—19.6% above the living wage in central London, and 6.6% higher outside London. I will reflect carefully on what she said and consider the appropriateness of such a meeting, given the issues at stake.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the best way to achieve the living wage is by cutting tax for low earners, as the Government have already done? Will he lobby the Treasury to cut tax for low earners still further by raising the threshold at which low earners pay national insurance?

My hon. Friend has made his own representation through the point he has raised, but I absolutely support his recognition of the work the Government have done for those on low pay, and in taking people out of the tax system altogether.