Labour challenger Owen Smith pledges "true" living wage for all adults

The challenger for the Labour leadership rails against in-work poverty. 


Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Owen Smith is to pledge to match the “true” living wage of £8.25 in a speech in Milton Keynes today. 

The Labour leadership challenger will also promise to extend the new, higher minimum wage to all adults. Employers are only obliged to pay the current wage of £7.20 to workers aged 25 and above.

Smith will also set out plans to tilt power in favour of workers, such as scrapping employment tribunal fees and repealing the Trade Unions Act.

He is expected to say: “For the last six years British workers have experienced a perfect Tory storm of falling wages, the watering down of workers’ rights and cruel cuts to social security.”

And in a rebuke to his rival, Jeremy Corbyn, he will add: “What's desperately needed is not more slogans, but a clear plan of action which offers solutions.”

According to Smith's team, this higher living wage would give workers aged 18-20 an immediate pay rise of £5,369 a year, those aged 21-25 one of £2,821, and those over 25 a boost of £1,911. 

Smith’s determination to tack to the left in the Labour leadership contest has provoked the Corbyn camp to point out many of his policies build on their own. 

But Smith’s selling point is not originality – it is his ability to deliver. 

To this end, his campaign is stuffed with wonkish aims, such as transforming the Low Pay Commission into a Living Wage Delivery Unit tasked with recommending pay increases, and a High Pay Commission “to consult on the introduction of maximum pay ratios between the top earners and average earners for private sector providers of public services”.

Corbyn launched his campaign with pledges to end justice and discrimination. You can read more about his policies here

Julia Rampen is the digital night editor at the Liverpool Echo, and the former digital news editor of the New Statesman. She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

Free trial CSS