Saturday 28th September
There has always been a gap between the highest paid and the lowest, but that gap is widening. Inexorably? I am not sure that it has to be. The Tories will argue that it is all down to the free market, and while you can hardly argue that if Real Madrid are happy to pay Gareth Bale a half a million euro’s a week for his undoubted talents who can stop them. But for the vast majority of us, is it right that those on very high salaries already should be paying themselves huge pay rises?
And free market or not the figures do not lie. One of the great achievements of the last Labour administration was the introduction of the National Minimum Wage. Before that many companies were paying ridiculously low wages. In my industry indeed many waiting staff were told that their basic pay would be very small, and would be made up from tips. So, a great move forward, and linked with the working families tax credit, did much to alleviate that middle ranking poverty, where decent people who were working still had difficulty making ends meet.
One unfortunate side effect however is that for many people the minimum wage is also the maximum wage they will ever earn. And it is too low. It has failed to keep up with either inflation or average pay. At the other end of the scale, where at Director level, people are able to decide their own wages, or have them decided by a panel of their peers; wages have exploded. In fact the minimum wage now standing at £6.19 would have been £18.90 if it had kept pace with the increases in top peoples pay!!!
Maybe we cannot completely buck the market, but possibly we can mitigate it. It is up to government to tax those on high wages and to increase and enforce the minimum wage to at least try to close the gap. Now which party do you think might be interested in doing that?