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Women 'to benefit from living wage'

Published 13/07/2015

Chancellor George Osborne made the national living wage the centrepiece of his Budget
Chancellor George Osborne made the national living wage the centrepiece of his Budget

Two-thirds of the workers who will benefit from the Government's national living wage (NLW) are women, according to Treasury figures revealed by George Osborne.

The Chancellor made the NLW the centrepiece of last week's Budget, promising a compulsory minimum wage for workers aged over 25 set at £7.20 an hour from April next year, rising to more than £9 by 2020.

Treasury analysis of the policy suggests 2.7 million people will benefit by 2020, with 80% of those from areas outside London and the South East.

In 2020, North West England will have the highest number of people benefiting from the policy, with 350,000 set to receive the living wage, with the West Midlands and South East each expected to have 300,000.

Mr Osborne will showcase the figures today after his Budget came under attack for hitting the poorest harder than wealthier households.

He will say : "Last week I delivered a Budget to move our whole nation from a low wage, high tax, high welfare economy to a higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare economy.

" Because we've taken tough choices to drive down borrowing, make our business tax competitive and reform welfare, I have been able to ask business to lift the wages of the lowest paid across the country.

"Rebalancing our economy is central to our long term plan and that is why it is so important to me that it is in the regions outside of the capital, and in the Northern Powerhouse in particular, that most working people will stand to gain.

"It's also right that with more women in the workplace than ever, we do all we can to support them. Two-thirds of those who will benefit from the new national living wage are women, which is something I hope everyone will celebrate.

"Britain deserves a pay rise - and I am making sure it gets one."

The respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found the poor will lose out more than the rich from the Budget and cast doubt on Mr Osborne's claim that it would pave the way to a "higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare" Britain.

While welfare payments will indeed be cut to the tune of £12 billion, the Chancellor's package would in fact increase taxes by £6.5 billion a year by 2020 and it was a "gamble" to rely on the new mandatory NLW to increase incomes, the IFS found.

The think-tank found that the average low-paid worker on tax credits would "unequivocally" lose more from benefit cuts announced by the Chancellor than they would gain from the introduction of the NLW, which will be worth £7.20 an hour to workers aged 25 or more - rising to £9 by 2020 - compared to £6.50 on the current national minimum wage.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid defended the financial package, insisting: "This is not a regressive Budget. This is a Budget when, taken together, it will ensure that the richest make the biggest contribution to the consolidation."

He told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "This is a Budget, like the others since 2010, where we've made sure it's the richest in society that make the biggest contribution."

The Treasury figures show 65% of the 2.7 million set to receive the living wage in 2020 are women.

But analysis by the House of Commons Library, published last week, found t he benefits cuts in the Budget hit women harder than men.

The analysis, commissioned by Labour leadership hopeful Yvette Cooper, shows that 70% of the almost £34 billion in welfare savings by 2020/21 will come from women.

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