Newsbeat asks: Is the minimum wage enough?

17/04/12

Sterling coins

The government's being told the minimum wage isn't enough.

A new report by a professor at the London School of Economics says the £6.08 hourly rate that adults receive is worth less now than it was eight years ago due to rising living costs.

But ministers argue that it protects the lowest paid without pricing companies out of hiring people.

So Newsbeat went to one busy high street to ask whether workers think the minimum wage is enough.

'Not a lot'

Like many town centres, Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire has a lot of people working in shops and small offices for minimum wages.

The shopping area is quiet and there are a few boarded up shops.

"Some people I know just lost their jobs at Game," says 18-year-old Emily Robert, who works part time at a golf club.

"We need a better minimum wage to help with study costs and help us get better jobs."

Her friend Lea Harris, 17, agrees.

"What does five or six quid get you? It's not a lot but then some people don't do much for it," she says.

Most people we spoke to think the minimum wage should rise by more than the 11p it's going up by in October.

But if you are younger than 21 then it's not going up at all. The rate will stay at £4.98 for 18 to 20-year-olds and £3.68 for 16 to 17-year-olds.

'Unfair'

Polly Daniels who's 18 and a hairdresser thinks the different levels are unfair.

"I work with someone who's 22 and they get an extra 40 quid a week although I work harder than them. It's just because they're older."

Polly Daniels, 18
Image caption Polly Daniels, 18, is unhappy that older people get paid more

Professor Alan Manning, who wrote the report, believes the effect of the minimum wage has "stalled" since it was introduced 13 years ago.

He says people over 30 should get more money as they're more likely to have children.

For Polly, though, that wouldn't work.

She says: "If we're going to have a level it has to be equal.

"We don't discriminate against sex or where people are from, so why should we on age?"