Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. The Staggers
23 November 2016

It’s not a living wage, and journalists shouldn’t call it one

The phrase "national living wage" is government PR, and journalists shouldn't use it.

By Stephen Bush

Although much of the Autumn Statement is shrouded in mystery, one announcement is already certain: an increase in the national minimum wage to £7.50 an hour by April 2017 – or, as the government’s press release and much of the press calls it, the “national living wage”.

There are many problems with the phrase “national living wage” in this context, not least because we already have one of those, set by the Living Wage Foundation, based on the cost of living. That wage is currently £8.45, 95p more than the new legal floor, which works out as £15.20 more a week for someone working 16 hours a week and £136.80 more a month for someone working full time. These represent significant quality-of-life differences and they shouldn’t be ignored.

Not that a rise in the minimum wage is a bad thing. That George Osborne believed these increases would somehow compensate for big cuts to tax credits was, and that Philip Hammond appears to believe that it can compensate for universal credit cuts is, however. The government is entitled to sell its policies with whatever language it wants. But just as I have no plans to refer to “lipsmacking thirst-quenching Pepsi” or pepper any references to laundry with assurances that “Daz washes whiter”, I – and other journalists – shouldn’t call the national minimum wage anything other than the national minimum wage.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action