Tessa Jowell, the front-runner to become Labour’s candidate for Mayor, has called for the introduction of a higher mandatory minimum wage in London.
In addition to the National Minimum Wage, a growing number of employers in the capital pay the London Living Wage, a higher hourly rate calculated by City Hall as the minimum needed to enjoy a decent standard of living.
Dame Tessa says increasing the minimum wage, currently £6.50, by £1 in London would amount to “a £200million a year pay-rise for London’s lowest paid workers” and reduce the need for tax credits.
Writing in the Evening Standard she says: “One in five Londoners aren’t paid enough to get by. Not less than they would like, but less than they need to live.
“These are the carers, cleaners and caterers that toil away to make our city work, but aren’t paid enough to support their families and pay the bills. That’s a scandal – and it’s time for action.”
She adds: “A higher minimum wage for London isn’t the end — it’s just a start. I want to see everyone in London receive the London Living Wage of £9.15”.
Under Dame Tessa’s proposals, responsibility for enforcing fair pay laws would be devolved to the boroughs and Mayor.
The Labour MP’s call has been rejected by Colin Stanbridge from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who said: “Rather than potentially land businesses with an unaffordable £200 million per year bill, we need a solid evidence-based approach to wages, which the Low Pay Commission and Living Wage Commission are both already exploring.”