Protecting incomes for the lowest paid

This week some important changes come into effect. The National Living Wage will go up by the highest rate since it was first introduced, increasing by almost 5% to £8.21 per hour. The National Minimum Wage will increase to £7.70 for 21 to 24-year olds, £6.15 for 18 to 20-year olds, £4.35 for 16 to 17-year olds and £3.90 for apprentices. Although most employers pay apprentices more than this minimum wage.

It has been estimated that 2.1 million workers are set to directly benefit from today’s increases; and altogether an estimated 5 million people will directly or indirectly benefit from these new wage increases.

Since the National Minimum Wage was introduced it has benefited the lowest paid in society, and today we continue that protection. Our minimum wage rates are among the highest in the world.

Since we announced the National Living Wage in 2015, it has helped protect the lowest paid – increasing wages faster than inflation and average earnings. Today, a full-time worker receiving National Living Wage will be more than £2,750 better off over the year compared to when it was first announced in 2015.

At the same time the amount of money people can earn before starting to pay tax has increased significantly. The Personal Allowance for working age people in 2019 to 2020 is £12,500 compared to £6,475 in 2009 to 2020.

As an employee you will pay 20% on anything you earn between £12,501-£50,000 you’ll pay 40% Income Tax on earnings between £50,001-£150,000.

It is very important to me that people keep more of the money they earn. Taxes are, of course, vital to pay for our public services but I want to ensure we continue to focus on supporting the lowest earners and average earners.

Our changes are benefitting working people across Cornwall and I will continue to do all that I can to support the creation and development of well-paid jobs here.

Last night, I joined an important debate about reform of business rates. Business rates are a tax on businesses and contribute a large amount of tax which pays for local public services. They are based on the value of property and they have not kept up with changes in modern business practices such as internet retail. I am proud of the work this government has done to reduce business rates for local small businesses and extending exemptions, for example, exempting public toilets from business rates, but much more needs to be done. I am pleased that last night the Government confirmed its intention to proceed with a thorough review.

I also joined a debate to stress how important it is to increase funding for education, particularly for FE (further education), that has been the Cinderella of education funding for too long. For the last few years I have had meetings with the Treasury to make the case directly for more investment.

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First published in the West Briton 04/04/19