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Firms Fire First Shot in wages fight

  • Date: Monday 17th October 2016
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Firms Fire First Shot in wages fight

Brexit has been dominating the headlines again, and it’s worrying to hear that our decision to leave the EU is likely to hit anticipated increases to the National Living Wage next year.

It seems that, instead of waging political war on Europe, we’re now facing up to a war on wages.

No wonder it’s been making the news - changes to minimum wage rates matter to more and more people in Scotland.

A report from the Resolution Foundation has now estimated that the number of Scottish workers in poorly-paid employment will fall from the current total of 470,000 to 400,000 in 2020.

Great, you might think – particularly when the proportion of workers earning the minimum wage has increased dramatically across the UK from one in 50 in 1999, when it was first introduced, to one in 20 in 2014.

Nevertheless, the picture is more complicated than it at first seems. While the longer-term economic impacts of Brexit are still to fully unfold, the Resolution Foundation suggests that Scotland’s lowest paid could yet be hit very hard indeed.

Currently, employers are required to pay all staff aged 25 and over a minimum of £7.20 an hour, and you will recall that in April 2016 the UK government brought in the National Living Wage (NLW) which was set to transform Scotland's low-pay landscape. However it is now clear that it won’t manage to eradicate the country’s salary issues altogether.

Under the NLW, the government had intended the wage floor for workers aged 25 and over to rise from £7.20 to £7.60 per hour, but it’s apparently now on course to rise only to £7.50.

That 30p increase could see workers receive an extra £600 a year – but, conversely complicating matters, it’s thought that low-paid workers in the UK are set to lose about 40p per hour from their pay packets due to the projected slowdown in economic growth, meaning that by 2020 the NLW may only reach £8.60, instead of a forecasted £9.

The reduction in the planned rise is likely to be seen as early as next month, when the chancellor, Philip Hammond, announces the increase from April 2017.

It’s truly upsetting to discover that we're unlikely to see the £9 minimum wage that George Osborne promised parliament in his 2015 budget speech. That potentially means a big impact on the wider economy, as workers will have less money, and therefore confidence, to spend.

It’s good then to see that the Scottish Government is working closely with the Poverty Alliance to offset the possible damage. They’re encouraging employers to dig a bit deeper and pay a salary that’s higher than the National Living Wage. To be precise, they want employers to pay a higher minimum rate of £8.25 an hour, as suggested by the Living Wage Foundation, which is great news for many Scottish workers.

We should be proud that we have a higher proportion of employees paid the living wage than anywhere else in the UK - apart from the unsurprising exception of South East of England and London - with over 80 per cent of employees now receiving it at the very least.

Nevertheless, in order for Holyrood to double its target of 500 to 1000 businesses becoming accredited living wage employers by autumn 2017, they have a long road in front of them. Let the war on wages begin – responsible employers are up for the fight.


Related Content: 7 Hacks To Help You Love Your Job.


We Have a Hol of a place.

The Scottish tourism sector has received a boost with news that overseas visitors spent over £500million in the second quarter of 2016.

This figure is up on the same quarter last year which saw a spend of £493million in the same period.

Fundamentally, despite the overall number of tourists dropping by 7.5 per cent, the Office for National Statistics figures also showed that those who did visit spent more.

This preceded news from Highlands and Islands Airports Limited which announced that its passenger figures rose above 900,000 for the first time over the first two quarters of a year.

More encouraging still, Inverness Airport reported outstanding performances on its new airline services connecting the Highland capital to London and Amsterdam.

This is fantastic news and testament to the superb tourism offering we have on our doorstep. It’s great to hear that more passengers are travelling to the far corners of our beautiful country.

Despite uncertain and challenging times, Scotland is holding its own as a top destination and the sector itself is standing strong.

As the dark nights draw in, council authorities and the tourism industry are gearing up for one of the biggest events in our calendar, Hogmanay.

New Year in Scotland is a wonderful experience that many tourists hope to enjoy and it’s the perfect time of year for us Scots to demonstrate our warm hospitality to the world.

Edinburgh’s famous Street Party alone attracts over 80,000 revellers alone with other renowned events taking place across the county including the traditional fireball ceremony in Stonehaven.

It would be great to ring in the New Year with continuing strong figures for the second half of 2016.



BANK OF SCOTLAND: You can’t bank on a selfie.

The Bank of Scotland has announced that customers can open a current account with a selfie as an accepted form of identification, following other hassle-easing moves by national bodies.

I was delighted when the DVLA made reapplying for photographic drivers’ licences much simpler by providing the option of sharing your passport photo.

I thought this was a great idea - it has made the process so quick and easy and meant you didn’t have to track down a photo booth to submit a new image.

However, I’m not sure what to think of the Bank of Scotland’s fresh announcement.

There are strict guidelines on what you can submit for your passport photo. Surely this decision will run the risk of some truly dodgy nightclub poses being submitted, cocktail-in-hand?


Tesco and the Marmite row.

I was surprised to see supermarket giant Tesco removing many household labels from its website after becoming embroiled in a row with Unilever.

Unilever claimed that it had been forced to put up its prices following a sharp drop in the value of the pound.

In response, Tesco, reluctant to pass those costs onto the consumer, pulled the likes of Marmite, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise from its website.

I applaud Tesco for its strong stance - and was pleased to note that the dispute was then quickly resolved - but wonder if we’ll start to see a rise in grocery prices around Scotland as more suppliers start to cite soaring costs.

Hopefully Tesco’s warning shot will make the would-be inflators think again.


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