I thank the Minister for that answer, but does she not agree that it is important to pay the real living wage, which is £9.40 an hour in London and £8.25 in the rest of the United Kingdom? It is paid by the Scottish Government and by more than 400 employers in Scotland, so it is fair to all employees, particularly those under 25.
I am glad the hon. Lady welcomes the fact that, from April this year, all employees in the United Kingdom who are over 25 will receive a significant pay rise. That is thanks to the strength of employment throughout the United Kingdom, which in turn is thanks to our long-term economic plan.
According to my calculations, someone who earns £7.85 an hour today will benefit from rises in the personal tax allowance and the national living wage, and, by the end of this Parliament, will be more than £1,500 better off. Does my hon. Friend agree that that proves that this Government are committed to making work pay?
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. In fact, it has been stated that not only will 2.5 million people benefit directly from the change in the national living wage in April, but up to 6 million whose salaries are very close to that hourly rate will benefit as well.
We believe that every worker in the country will benefit from the change in the national living wage, which is an important part of the long-term economic plan, but, as the hon. Gentleman will know, this year public sector workers received pay rises that were above inflation.
The Minister has made important comments about the principle of making work pay. Will she give further consideration to extending the married couples’ tax allowance, so that more families can keep more of what they earn?