UP TO 18,000 16-17 year olds in Wales could be as much as £2,500 better off every year, as Labour announces it will extend Real Living Wage to under 18 year olds

Labour announced that it will extend its Real Living Wage of £10 per hour to under 18 year olds. Labour will abolish the ‘youth rate’ of the minimum wage and ensure that workers who are under the age of 18 are paid a Real Living Wage at the same rate as their colleagues.

Workers under the age of 18 are currently only entitled to a minimum wage of £4.35 per hour, just over half the National Minimum Wage of £8.21 which is only paid to those aged 25 and over. Last year there were approximately 17,817 16-17 year olds in work in Wales.

Labour’s pledge to extend the Real Living Wage of £10 per hour will make the average young worker better off by £48.45 per week, or £2,519 per year.

Average real pay for 16 and 17 year olds is still below its 2006 level, and young workers are more likely to be in insecure work and on zero hours contracts than their older colleagues.

Labour will use fiscal savings arising from a reduction in the amount that the Treasury pays out in in-work benefits to provide targeted support for SMEs to enable them to pay the Real Living Wage to all staff, guided by the Living Wage Review Body.

Announcing the policy at a Young Labour event in Birmingham, Jeremy Corbyn is expected to say:

“Equal pay for equal work is hardly a controversial idea, so why are we discriminating against young people?

“You don’t get a discount at the shops for being under 18. But if the person serving you on the other side of the counter is young, they could be on half the wage of their colleagues.

“It’s time to end this discrimination. Young people’s work should be properly valued, not exploited by employers to cut their wage bill. If they’re doing the job, pay them the wage – the Real Living Wage.

“So when Labour gets into power, we’ll abolish the Youth Rate of the minimum wage. Workers should be rewarded for their work, not their age. Equal rights for workers means just that – irrespective of age, gender, nationality or race.

“For a 16-year-old currently on the minimum wage, what I’m announcing today will mean a pay rise from £4.35 an hour this year under a Tory government, to £10 an hour next year under Labour – more than double. For the average 16-17-year-old in employment, that will make them more than £2,500 a year better off.

“Imagine what that will do for the lives of young people, especially those from poorer backgrounds. It will be nothing less than life changing.”

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