Op-ed: The British Tory government has pinched yet another UK Labour party idea; the so-called living wage.
The government has in effect rebranded the minimum wage as the national living wage as in truth it is anything but a real living wage.
The introduction of a minimum wage was one Tony Blair's Labour government's big success stories.
It took some people legally employed for around £2 an hour out of real hardship and poverty but only went part of the way to addressing income imbalance in the UK.
It did however mean security guards for example were no longer 'forced' to work upwards of 60 hour working weeks to make ends meet. With income top ups for those with children it was an all-round good measure; a start.
Almost 19 years later in work benefits have been slashed and the minimum wage has failed to keep up. Sure inflation currently may be relatively low but think of all the years between 1997 and 2016 when it was not.
During those years the minimum wage failed to keep up and the fact inflation is low right now is in real terms meaningless to those employed on a basic income, in receipt of a benefit such as a state pension or JSA or on a temporary or zero or part time hours contract.
But it is a better option than scrapping a minimum or living wage.
When the minimum wage was introduced one security firm which operates locally said it would be bankrupt and soon if it was faced to pay more than its paltry £2.25 an hour. All these years later that firm is as prosperous as ever.
The introduction of this 'living wage' could end up meaningless as there are reports that some firms will claw back bonus payments and other perks to pay for it. These days employment contracts have less protection which means they may have carte blanch to do so.
But paying people a fair wage for a fair day's work has many benefits.
If people have even a little disposable income they may book a holiday, buy nice household goods, treat themselves to a new outfit, save a little money, go out for a meal or what-they-will.
Keeping too many people of the UK on an income knife edge hurts the economy, local business and more.
It can damage the health of the young, vulnerable and the elderly. That in turn impacts on NHS costs, crime figures and so much more.
So while we applaud the living wage we question whether it is a real living wage or not. After all it was set by some people who are millionaires and some who had a great start in life due to family wealth.
The new national minimum wage of £7.20 per hour is for everyone 25 and over.
So it is not a universal living wage.
Again it shows David Cameron's 'One Nation' spin is just that-spin.
Looking back over my life-by the age of 23 both my parents were dead. Unlike David Cameron who inherited vast sums of money nicely tucked away in off shore tax havens by his father there was no inheritance; aged 49 Cameron's mother is still alive and he did not lose his father at a young age.
My Dad always worked apart from some periods when unrecognised WWII PTSD caught up with him. But he was employed by Hull City Engineers in its building division at a time when the council was not facing privatisation and severe cuts. So he was kept employed until he died at the age of 55; and I should add he was a damn hard worker.
The house we lived in as kids was not much by today's standards but it was home and it was a tenancy for life; so at least no worries about a tenancy ending as long as you paid the rent.
There was no crippling council tax either just the rates which on a small two up two downed property with no bathroom and an outside loo were relatively cheap.
How very different to today.
Young people face high rents, tenancies that are far from secure, a lack of affordable housing and a cut price wage until they become 25 and not much better when they reach that age.
[The government has spent so much money implementing and publicising the new national living wage it could give us all an income top up]
Yet those same under 25s may have children and already be married.
Saving for a first home may not be on the cards and even after they reach the magic age of 25.
While children these days are in many ways so much more grown up in essence they are being kept as children much longer unless they hail from a family with wealth.
University education now comes at a price and sadly a price many cannot afford.
And if I look back to when I married in 1972, when I was a smoker, I could purchase a pack of 20 cigs for 18p. I quit cigarettes in 1985, or so, so I had to check the current price online which is listed as £9.60 for a pack of 20 cigarettes; however these days many packs only have 18 or 19 and making cheaper looking prices misleading.
But I use cigs as one example as we all know smoking is not good for you in any sense; it is just used as an example of increased costs.
Consider my first little rented property in 1972 which had a rent of around £4 a month. It still lacked some basic amenities but was a good start for us and we soon made it home. And it was worth decorating and more as we again had a tenancy for life unless we defaulted on the rent or broke our rental contract.
Short tenancies hardly encourage you to spend money renovating do they?
It now costs an average £2,583 a month to take on a rented property in central London, compared with £663 in the north of England, the cheapest place to rent in the UK, according to Countrywide, which analysed more than 75,000 properties in England, Scotland and Wales.
Such rents are obviously out of the reach of many young people; and some not so young too.
With high deposits and short term tenancies the odds are not in your favour.
Buying a property could be a better option but hold that thought; interest rates are low but sooner or later will rise; lenders also now want large deposits.
Taking the first step into a home of your own was never so tricky.
BBC magazine has some facts and figures relating to what £7.20 an hour may be you in the UK and it shows that in spite of Tory trumpets that is not a living wage.
Govt National Living Wage
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