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Kendall vows drive for living wage

Published 25/06/2015

Liz Kendall rejected the suggestion she was the Blairite candidate
Liz Kendall rejected the suggestion she was the Blairite candidate

Labour leadership hopeful Liz Kendall has pledged to give the Low Pay Commission powers to increase take-up of the living wage.

The organisation, which advises the Government on the national minimum wage, would be tasked with working with employers and unions to find ways to introduce the higher pay rate more widely.

But the living wage would remain a voluntary target under Ms Kendall's plans.

She said: "Rather than tackling the full range of issues around low pay, it is focused on setting the level of the national minimum wage.

"We must now look at increasing pay beyond that.

"As Labour's next prime minister I would extend the legal remit of the Low Pay Commission to work with employers, unions and civil society to identify practical, non-statutory ways to move wages towards the living wage, sector by sector.

"Giving the Low Pay Commission this additional remit would protect its independence and mean the expertise and institutional support behind the minimum wage can support the living wage as well."

Ms Kendall has also commissioned experts to devise plans to stop the "exploitation" of up to 220,000 care workers who end up earning less than the minimum wage because they do not get paid for travel time between appointments.

The shadow health minister has been branded the Blairite candidate in the battle to succeed Ed Miliband but rejected the tag.

"I'm not a Blairite Kendallite candidate, I'm my own candidate," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The Labour Party has got to move on from the past."

Asked if she backed calls by Lord Lawson to cut the top rate of tax to 40p - the level it was under Tony Blair - Ms Kendall replied: "No. We need a fair tax system where people pay their fair share. Policies change according to the economic circumstances.

"We have a huge deficit and debt that we need to bring down and I believe that those with the broadest shoulders should bear the biggest burden."

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