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Money - Money

National Living Wage increase announcement

Chancellor Savid Javid pledged at the Conservative Party Conference to raise the National Living Wage to £10.50 within the next five years.

Savid Javid also pledged to lower the age threshold for those who qualify from 25 to 21.

Speaking to a packed hall at the Tory Party Conference, Mr Javid said the policy would "help the next generation of go-getters to get ahead". The current rate for over 25s is £8.21, but the Living Wage Foundation says it should already be £9 across the UK and £10.55 for those in London.

Earlier this year, Labour pledged to raise the National Living Wage to £10 an hour in 2020 and to include all workers under 18, who currently get a minimum wage of £4.35.

Mr Javid told his party the living wage pledge would make the UK "the first major economy in the world to end low pay altogether". He said cutting the threshold to 21 would "reward the hard work of all millennials", but it will come in two stages, with 23-year-olds qualifying for the rise in 2021 and 21-year-olds by 2024.

The CEO of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said there was "nothing wrong with targeting higher wages", but "all of this adds to the cumulative pressures you have seen take their toll on the retail sector".

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, a charity which represents nurseries, said: "A rise in the national living wage is fantastic for younger workers, but for the early years sector, this could be an additional cost that many providers will not be able to afford to bear."

The TUC, meanwhile, said the chancellor's promise "should be taken with a huge bucket of salt".

"This pledge would be overwhelmed by a no-deal Brexit," general secretary Frances O'Grady added. "If we leave the EU without a deal, jobs will be lost, wages will fall, and our public services will suffer."

The National Living Wage was introduced by then Chancellor George Osborne in 2016, but the Living Wage Foundation argues the level should always have been higher in order to cover the real needs of employees and their families. Director of the organisation Katherine Chapman said nearly 6,000 employers across the UK were already "going further than the legal minimum and paying a real Living Wage that covers the cost of living".

Read: BBC News - Tory conference: National Living Wage to rise to £10.50, says chancellor