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Issue #1717      February 3, 2016

Con-trick over pay

BRITAIN: Tory ministers plan to spend £5 million of taxpayers’ cash on a propaganda campaign to promote their so-called “national living wage,” the Morning Star can reveal.

The vast sum is to be spent on advertising the Chancellor’s pay “con-trick” across Britain before its implementation on April 1. The government insists it’s necessary to inform workers of the scheme, but Labour has accused ministers of “false advertising” that risks damaging the real living wage campaign.

Chancellor George Osborne triumphantly announced the new compulsory “national living wage” as the centrepiece of his summer budget.

But at £7.20 (A$14.50), it is a full £1 below the real rate needed to live calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, and effectively just a higher minimum wage.

The policy was dubbed a “beautifully crafted con-trick” by GMB general secretary Paul Kenny. And Living Wage Foundation director Rhys Moore concluded: “This is effectively a higher national minimum wage and not a living wage.”

Now the government has allocated a bumper £4,950,000 (A$10m) budget to an advertising campaign designed to convince the public otherwise. The vast sum to be spent on promoting the “national living wage” was signed off last September by Tory Business Minister Nick Boles.

But it has only been publicly disclosed this week in data released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). In a section setting out the “basis for expenditure approval,” the document states: “This is a PM priority campaign that has been commissioned by Number 10.

“In the summer Budget, the Chancellor announced the introduction of the national living wage for every UK worker, 25 years old or over, currently on the national minimum wage. It is one of the government’s flagship policies to help achieve a higher-wage, lower-welfare economy by 2020.”

The government insisted the bumper budget was needed to ensure that information about the pay rise reaches “those who need it most.”

A BIS spokesman said: “The government’s new national living wage is a step up for working people, so it is important workers know their rights.” But shadow Cabinet Office minister Ian Lavery believes ministers are using public money for a thinly veiled party political campaign.

“These figures really add insult to injury,” the chairman of Labour’s trade union group told the Morning Star. “The Tory definition of a living wage is a million miles away from the amount recognised by the Living Wage Foundation.

“So as well as duping the nation, the Tories are damaging a credible and crucial campaign. This is the same old Tories – out of touch and out of line.”

Morning Star

Next article – Uprising about more than knives

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