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National Living Wage: Under-25s

Volume 655: debated on Tuesday 5 March 2019

4. Whether his Department has undertaken an economic impact assessment of extending the national living wage to people under the age of 25. (909575)

The Low Pay Commission recommends minimum wages for the under-25s, such that they are as high as possible while maintaining young people’s employment prospects. We have seen a 45% reduction in youth unemployment since 2010 as a result.

That is lovely, but it is not actually the answer to the question I asked, which was whether an economic impact assessment had been carried out. Clearly, the answer is no. The Government obviously have an ideological problem with a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Given that this is national apprenticeship week, does the right hon. Lady really think that it is acceptable to pay apprentices just £3.70 an hour in this country under UK law? Will she use the spring statement to take action to introduce a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work? If she will not, will she devolve this to Scotland so that we can do the job for her?

The reality is that we have been so successful in reducing youth unemployment—which in 2010 was almost double what it is now—because we have taken a reasonable strategy with minimum wages. We have also had a welfare to work programme and helped young people to get experience and skills. It would be completely wrong to raise wages to the extent that young people were unemployed and unable to get the experience and skills that they need to succeed in life.