An estimated 150,000 people – two thirds of them women – could see a pay increase in an independent Scotland, new figures have suggested.
When the new National Minimum Wage (NMW) comes into force in October this year, an estimated 150,000 people – or just under seven per cent – of the workforce will be earning the NMW or below.
The analysis was compiled using the NMW levels which will come into effect from October 2014 and applies these to April 2013 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings data.
The SNP has said it will set up a commission in an independent Scotland to consider a new ‘Scottish Minimum Wage’ – which would rise at least in line with inflation – and ensure that benefits, allowances and tax credits rise with the cost of living.
The minimum wage has failed to keep up with the cost of living since 2008. If the inflation increases had been introduced five years ago, the lowest paid Scots would have been up to £675 better off.
Commenting, Christina McKelvie MSP, who is Convener of the SNP Parliamentary Trade Union Group, said:
“With a Yes vote and independence we will be able to ensure that around 150,000 of our lowest paid workers earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
“Scotland is one of the richest countries in the world – and yet the latest figures show that the number of people living in poverty is on the increase, with a million Scots now living below the bread line.
The Scottish Living Wage is currently £7.65 per hour. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) thresholds to be introduced in October 2014 are £3.79 for ages 16-17, £5.13 for ages 18-20 and £6.50 for ages 21+.
Ms McKelvie added: “We know one of the key drivers of poverty is earnings – which is why we would use the powers of independence to set a Scottish Minimum Wage guarantee. A minimum wage that rises – at the very least – in line with inflation.
“The Scottish Government is already using the limited powers it has to take steps to help those on the lowest incomes – such as supporting the Scottish Living Wage of £7.45 per hour. But with independence we would have improved wages for all our workers, not just those under the responsibility of government.”