Good news, everyone! The UK government has announced that the minimum wage shall increase! For over 21s it shall increased from £6.19 to £6.31, and for 18-20s from £4.98 to £5.03. The minimum wage was introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 1998, and has virtually put a stop to any exploitative employment which may have been seen previously, by ensuring all workers earn a decent rate. It has been criticised for being too low, so, surely, this is good news?
These increases (1.9% for adults) are well below the current national inflation rate of 2.8%. Sure, wages are increasing, but the cost of living is rising faster. If we assume that poor, working people are not the government’s greatest priority (it’s been obvious for quite some time), this doesn’t even make economic sense. The economy is not going to get moving unless we increase the spending power of the population as a whole, but the government seems set on boosting the wealth of businesses and the upper middle-class, over the misguided belief that making it easier for the wealthy to become even more wealthy will cause some of their wealth to ‘trickle down’. These ideas were first majorly implemented by Prime Minister Thatcher and… well… The figures really speak for themselves.
Wealth has been getting progressively more concentrated since Thatcher’s Conservative government was elected in 1979. Labour, to their shame, did little to reverse this concentration, and the current Conservative-led government is clearly, day by day, continuing these disastrous policies. Look at that chart. Very soon, if not already, we’re going to be back to Victorian levels of inequality – unless someone does something about it. Cameron and Clegg certainly don’t seem particularly bothered.