​Tory Minister Matthew Hancock: Under 25s 'don't deserve living wage'

Tory Minister Matthew Hancock, pictured above in his own election campaign leaflet, has told the Tory party conference that people under 25 "don't deserve" the national living wage because they "aren't as productive" as older people.

“Anybody who has employed people knows that younger people, especially in their first jobs, are not as productive, on average."

“Now there are some who are very productive under the age of 25 but you have to set policy for the average. It was an active choice not to cover the under 25s.”

The 'living wage' for over 25s will being next April, starting at £7.20 an hour and increasing to £9 by 2020. Under 25 year-olds will be on the old minimum wage rates, £6.70 an hour if you're aged 21-24, £5.30 if you're 18-20 and £3.87 if you're under 18.

Matthew Hancock who is the "paymaster general" to the Tory government told the conference that the decision to exclude under 25s from the minimum wage was an "active policy choice", rather than one that was forced by the deficit. In short, he claimed that anyone under 25 doesn't deserve as much money because they don't work as hard.

Reacting to the speech, Owen Smith, Labour’s Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary, said:

"The Tories have clearly got something against young people. It's insulting and divisive to make sweeping suggestions that under 25s are under productive. Surely it's not right to ask a 24 year old, perhaps with a family at home, to do the same job as the 26 year old stood next to them, for different rates of pay.

"The Minister has let the cat out of the bag on the Government's decision to exclude under 25's from the new higher rate minimum wage."

"This is yet another examples of haphazard Tory policy making.”

Damaging productivity

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said a lower minimum wage could actually harm productivity among under 25s.

“21-24 year olds are already paid the adult National Minimum Wage and there is no reason to exclude them from the new higher rate - indeed employment rates for this group are currently growing twice as fast as those of older adults."

“If those beginning their careers are given the impression they are worth less this can only be bad for their motivation and productivity."

She stopped short of telling young people you should calculate how much less you are being paid less than your colleagues, and adjust your productivity accordingly, telling them if you're getting paid 10% less you should do 10% less photocopying than everyone else.

Double whammy

Also reacting to the speech, Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: "Remarks like this show just how out of touch the government is. Young people are every bit as productive as older workers, and can have just the same responsibilities as their more mature workmates."

"A young home care worker, for example, has to do exactly the same stressful job as the older colleagues on their team, and probably isn't even getting the minimum wage as many aren't paid for their travel between appointments."

"Younger workers under 25 with families face a double whammy. First they are denied a pay rise and then they get hit hard by the planned cuts to tax credits."

"Thanks to the meanness of this government, under 25s with one child doing a 35 hour week on the national minimum wage won’t get the £910 a year pay increase next April, but they will still lose £1,754.20 from the tax credit changes."

"Ministers should think again on tax credits, and on their decision to deny young workers the pay rise others are getting."

The Tories plan to go ahead with their pay increase, which will see over 25s get a "living wage" whilst the under 25s will get whatever the opposite of a "living wage" is...

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