Figures show a third of Yorkshire workers earn under £10 an hour as parties pledge to raise minimum wage

Stock photo of money as political parties discuss the minimum wage. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Stock photo of money as political parties discuss the minimum wage. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
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A third of Yorkshire workers earn below £10 an hour, it has been revealed, as political parties vowed to up the minimum wage.

Figures from Labour showed 697,000 (33 per cent) of workers in Yorkshire and the Humber were paid less than £10 an hour

This was, percentage wise, more than anywhere else in the country except for the North East, where the figure was 33 per cent also.

The current minimum wage for people 25 and over is £8.21 while for 16-17 year olds it is £4.35.

The Conservatives plan to lower the age limit for the National Living Wage to 21 and pay around £10.39 per hour by 2024.

But Labour says it will immediately introduce a £10 living wage for everyone aged over 16.

And combined with a pledge to not raise income tax or national insurance contributions for the bottom 95 per cent of earners, the party said this would mean a worker on the minimum wage will be at least £6,000 better off after tax.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, said: “Labour's real living wage will put more money into the pockets of the workers that need it most and give a boost to the economy.

“Over the last decade the Tories have allowed in-work poverty to soar and left millions in insecure jobs.

“Labour will deliver real change for the many, not the few.”

The Green Party has also pledged to raise the minimum wage, to £12 by 2022.

Sian Berry, co-leader of The Green Party, said: “The living wage must mean what it says on the tin, and the Government has made a mockery of this concept by simply renaming the minimum wage, while not using the evidence to set the rate at a level people can build a life on. I’m proud that the Green Party will set this right and make sure all workers in the UK receive at least £12 an hour.

“The Green Party will end the discrimination against young people where it is legal to pay under-21s a genuine pittance for doing exactly the same work as someone older. It isn’t fair, it doesn’t make sense, and it must stop.

“What message does that send to young people? That their time is worth half someone else’s? Everyone, no matter how young or old they are, deserves to be paid enough to live a decent life.”

However think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned political parties should be careful when setting the minimum wage as there is a level beyond which lower paid people's employment prospects will be harmed.

The IFS said there may be scope for minimum wage increases, but movement must be considered thoroughly as "the risks may be quite severe".

They added the plans of both the main parties would take the minimum wage to a historical high and would double or treble the number of private sector employees whose wages are directly set from Whitehall.

The Conservatives' plans would double the number of employees directly affected by the minimum wage, and under Labour's proposals the number affected would treble, the IFS said.

Because the lowest wages tend to be in the private sector, the impact there will be greater, the institute added.

The IFS also warned there are particular risks to having high minimum wages for young employees, as many struggle to find work at those levels.

Evidence suggests minimum wage rises have so far successfully boosted earnings without harming employment so there might be a case for further rises, the IFS said.

However, it warns that a "careful process" is required for implementing rises, noting there is some level beyond which a higher minimum will harm the employment prospects of the low paid.

Although the limit has not been reached, the research group said the tipping point is not known.

Xiaowei Xu, a Research Economist at the IFS, said setting the minimum wage should be "a careful and incremental process".

Ms Xu said: "Recent minimum wage rises have boosted earnings and there is little evidence that they have damaged employment, so there may well be scope for further increases. But both the Conservatives' and Labour's plans would take us into uncharted waters.

"That calls for a careful and incremental process to ensure that, if the employment prospects of the low-paid do start to be impacted, policymakers can change course before it is too late.

"We should not be setting minimum wages via a political bidding war. If due consideration is not given to the balancing act involved, the risks to the very people the policy is intended to help may be quite severe."