Government will not cut the minimum wage

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday insisted it would not cut the national minimum wage when it is reviewed in October, despite calls from businesses who say it is holding back employment.

Business ministers have told the Low Pay Commission, which sets the rate, to consider the “economy and employment” when making its next recommendation. But Downing Street suggested it would not back a cut in the rate, which currently stands at £6.19 an hour for those over 21.

However, the government did not categorically rule out freezing the rate after consecutive years of rises.

Last year the wage for employees aged between 16 and 20 was kept at £4.98 to ensure that it does not get in the way of job creation for young people.

At the time business secretary Vince Cable said raising the youth rate would have been of little value to young people “if it meant it was harder for them to get a job in the long run”.

Labour’s Chris Leslie said yesterday: “How can George Osborne claim he wants to make work pay when the government is considering cutting or freezing the minimum wage?”