Croydon South’s new Tory MP has declared that the statutory Minimum Wage is not enough to live on in London.
Millionaire Chris Philp has written to the Low Pay Commission calling for an enhanced rate for the London Living Wage to be made mandatory for all employers in the capital.
“I could not live on £6.50 an hour,” said Croydon’s second-most famous van driver (X Factor winner Ben Haenow, for now, remains just a tad more famous than the new MP).
The national Minimum Wage, which employers must pay by law, is £6.50 per hour.
The London Living Wage – which is a suggested level of pay for the capital’s employers – is £9.15 per hour, and reflects the higher costs of living in what is often regarded as one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Croydon was made a Living Wage borough when Labour took charge of the Town Hall a year ago, insisting that all staff and employees of contractors should be paid at the enhanced level. Philp’s Tory colleagues in Croydon had avoided introducing such a pay scale during their time in office, even though Boris Johnson, the Conservative Mayor of London, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Living Wage.
There is widespread concern that London is too expensive a place to live for those on low incomes, including many in vital public services. A growing proportion of those of low wages are forced to claim state benefits – which is increasingly seen as a public subsidy for employers who fail to pay a Living Wage.
“I do worry that we have 140 billionaires in London — more than any other city … and yet hardly any of them are taking the trouble to ensure that the companies they lead or invest in are paying their employees the London Living Wage,” the Mayor of London said in a speech this week.
Philp echoed that view. “I do not believe that it is possible to live on the current national minimum wage, especially in London,” Philp said in a letter to the head of the Low Pay Commission, David Norgrove.
Philp has called on the Low Pay Commission to recommend “significant” rises in the national rate, but also to consider the case for London having a separate higher rate.
“I think it is only reasonable that employers should pay a wage that people can live on.”
Philp described tax credits as “subsidising companies who are not paying their staff properly”. A higher minimum wage would save public money, Philp said.
Philp might need to be careful after discovering some social conscience: when another Conservative MP, Matthew Parris, appeared on a television documentary in 1980s to demonstrate that it was impossible to live on unemployment benefit, he curtailed his parliamentary career by several decades. It probably did Parris a favour.
As an MP, Philp will soon be benefiting from a 10 per cent increase in his basic salary of £67,000, not that he needs that money, since he is reputedly a millionaire through his property investment business.
He is, though, to be congratulated for his commonsense call. What next? Philp calling for the re-nationalisation of the railways, or an inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave?
Inside Croydon has asked Philp for a copy of his letter, for us to re-publish on this site. We have also asked him what is the lowest hourly rate paid to the employees and contractors working for his various businesses in this country.
We await the MP’s reply.
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