Conservatives say they'll give pay rise to lowest-paid in Wales

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to confirm that the national living wage is set to increase Credit: PA

The Conservatives say they'll give a pay rise to 140,000 of the lowest paid workers here in Wales.

At the Conservative party conference in Manchester today, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the national living wage is set to increase to at least £11 an hour from next April.

It’s estimated that 140,000 low paid workers in Wales will benefit from the rise which would see annual earnings of a full-time worker on the National Living Wage go up by over £1,000 next year.

It was welcomed by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives who said that it will put "more money into the pay-packets of hard-working people and families right across the UK."

Andrew RT Davies added that it was another move by the Conservatives to boost the economy of Wales:

“This year the Prime Minister has announced two Free Ports in Wales, supported Welsh industry by providing £500million of investment in Tata Steel and has just announced £80 million over the next 10 years for regeneration projects across four locations in Wales. It is clear the UK Government is continuing to deliver for the people of Wales."

But Labour's Shadow Welsh Secretary has criticised the Conservatives for unveiling "gimmicks, re-announced re-announcements and conspiracy theory promotion" at the conference.

Jo Stevens said that "The Tory conference is a perfect illustration of 13 years of Tory governments’ failures and the huge risk facing the country would be five more years.

She added that "this week they should fix the holes in Sunak’s botched windfall tax to bring down the cost of living for working families; scrap the non-dom status to fund the NHS; reverse their decisions preventing people from getting on the housing ladder; and set up a new policing unit to smash the criminal smuggling gangs.

"But instead of that we’ve seen infighting, more gimmicks, re-announced re-announcements and conspiracy theory promotion.

"The public see the Tory conference for what it is, an arrogant government desperately trying to distract the public from the devastation its incompetence has caused."

Mr Hunt also announced that ministers will look again at the benefit sanctions regime in a bid to get the unemployed back into work.

In his speech, he'll say that “since the pandemic, things have being going in the wrong direction. Whilst companies struggle to find workers, around 100,000 people are leaving the labour force every year for a life on benefits.

"As part of that we will look at the way the sanctions regime works. It is a fundamental matter of fairness. Those who won’t even look for work do not deserve the same benefits as people trying hard to do the right thing."

The move has been criticised by Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary leader Liz Saville-Roberts who said that "The Tories' assault on the poor amid an inequality crisis of their own making reveals just how detached from reality they have become.

“Jeremy Hunt must face the grim fact: the UK's safety net for the unemployed lags far behind the rest of Europe. After two months without work, the UK offers a paltry 17% of former income, in stark contrast to Belgium's 90%, for example.

“The notion that people willingly choose hardship on unemployment benefits is detached from reality. No one chooses joblessness, sickness, or poverty.

“Instead of these distraction tactics, Jeremy Hunt should provide clarity on HS2's future and commit to full compensation for Wales, which would bolster our economy."

Andrew RT Davies told ITV Cymru Wales his party needs to be "more competitive". Credit: PA Images

Meanwhile the Welsh Conservative leader has backed Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt in the party’s row over tax cuts.

The former Prime Minister Liz Truss is one of the prominent figures calling for reductions sooner rather than later, calls backed by current cabinet member Michael Gove who said he wanted to see cuts before the next UK General Election, which is expected next year.

Jeremy Hunt has said that tax cuts are “virtually impossible” in the current circumstances, a position backed by Andrew RT Davies who told me that "We need sound finances and to make sure that Britain can pay its way in the world.

“But ultimately I'm a Conservative. I believe in low taxation, but you need to do that when the balance sheet allows it to be done rather than put more on the credit card."

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