An inquiry should be launched into the “alarming” number of jobs advertised “below the national minimum wage” on a Government website, MPs have heard.
Speaking during an SNP-led debate in the House of Commons on how to address the rising cost of living, Chris Stephens said an article on The Ferret website, which was also published in The Herald newspaper, gave examples of jobs being advertised for below the national minimum wage on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website.
The SNP MP for Glasgow South said: “It outlined that out of 10,000 jobs advertised on the Department for Work and Pensions website, an alarming number were offering jobs and advertising jobs below the national minimum wage.
Perhaps the Department for Work and Pensions will refer themselves to the national minimum wage compliance unitChris Stephens
“Burger King, there was an advertisement for £6 an hour, Pizza Express £6.56 an hour, Farmfoods £6.66 an hour. These are companies that have made profits in the last couple of years, and good profits at that.
“I will be asking for an inquiry as to why the Department for Work and Pensions websites are advertising jobs that are below the national minimum wage rates, it really is a scandal.
“Perhaps the Department for Work and Pensions will refer themselves to the national minimum wage compliance unit because they should when they’re advertising jobs at these rates and I hope ministers in the Government will respond.”
The minimum wage is £8.91 an hour for people aged 23 and over, £8.36 for 21 to 22-year-olds, £6.56 for those aged 18 to 20, £4.62 for under-18s and £4.30 for apprentices.
Greg Hands, a minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which is responsible for minimum wage compliance and enforcement, said the DWP website had checks to remove job adverts offering below the minimum wage.
Mr Hands said: “I’m going to answer his point about the minimum wage job adverts. The DWP does have checks, and if they discover any that are below the minimum wage they will take them down.”
Mr Stephens intervened, thanked the minister, and asked: “Is it in order then for us to report the Department for Work and Pensions to the national minimum wage compliance unit?”
The business minister responded: “We take the enforcement of the national minimum wage incredibly seriously right the way across Government, all departments do.”
The SNP put forward a motion in the Commons warning that households “will soon be suffering the worst income squeeze since the 1970s”, and calling on the Government to scrap VAT on energy bills, implement a windfall tax on “companies which are benefitting from significantly increased profits as a result of impacts associated with the Covid-19 pandemic or the current international situation”, and to scrap the energy bill rebate scheme and introduce “immediate emergency cash payments for households”.
Speaking for the SNP front bench, Stephen Flynn said the Government “has gone nowhere near far enough in terms of its support for households up and down the country”.
“Is it right that those who benefitted from the pandemic – Serco, Amazon, Netflix, Asos – to the tune of billions of pounds because of the way people’s habits have changed, and of course because of some of the contracts they have received from Government, is it right that they’re able to benefit whilst our constituents are struggling? Absolutely not. It is not right at all,” he said.
Treasury minister Helen Whately said: “We in Government do recognise the challenges many households are facing with the cost of living, including of course those in Scotland.
“That’s one reason why we are providing support worth over £20 billion across this financial year and next, why for instance we’re cutting the Universal Credit taper rate, increasing work allowances to make sure work pays, freezing fuel and alcohol duty to keep costs down, and why last month we announced a £9.1 billion package to help households with rising energy bills.”