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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Natalie Bennett Announces Living Wage Policies at the Green Party Autumn Conference

The Green Party of England and Wales autumn conference is underway and our party leader Natalie Bennett has announced plans to create a 'living wage' by raising the minimum wage to £10 per hour by 2020. At the moment the minimum wage (as of next month) is £6.50 for those over 21, £5.13 for those aged 18-20 and £3.79 for those under 18. The problem is that with the cost of living rising due to increasing rents and utility bills, among other costs, the minimum wage is often not a 'living wage' which is defined as the amount needed to meet the basic cost of living in the UK ie food, clothing and shelter. Currently the living wage in the UK is calculated as £7.65 if you live outside London and £8.80 inside London.

How the policy would work is that the minimum wage would rise in stages by £1.15 to £7.65 an hour next year and then in further stages until reaching £10 in 2020. To help pay for this, those with more than £3million in assets will pay an annual levy of between 1% and 2%, amounting to £30,000 - £60,000 a year.

In addition to this, Natalie Bennett also promised to abolish zero-hours contracts in her speech to conference. She said:

"We’re also backing a complete ban zero-hours contracts. No employer should be able to hold their staff captive in a life of uncertainty and fear, subject to the whims and favouritism of managers, with no way of planning how to pay their bills. The zero-hours contract is the return of the Great Depression’s street corner queues for work – and we say NO!"

As for rent costs, she outlined plans for both rent capping and an end to short-term contracts:

"And we’ll ensure that private landlords are NOT allowed to continue to charge extortionate rents for rabbit hutches. Our smart rent cap, combined with long-term rental contracts, will keep rent rises down. And we’re demanding a living rent commission, to work out how to bring rents back in line with incomes."

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