Scotland politics

Scottish independence: SNP considers 'Scottish minimum wage'

Cash Image copyright PA
Image caption The SNP has proposed a commission to consider a more generous minimum wage

An independent Scotland would consider introducing a minimum wage that would rise in line with the cost of living, the SNP has said.

The party said it would set up a commission to consider a Scottish minimum wage which would rise "at least in line with inflation".

The SNP has estimated that 150,000 people could be better off under the proposals.

But Scottish Labour accused the SNP of promising "jam tomorrow".

The UK government has announced that the national minimum wage for workers over 21 is to rise from £6.31 per hour to £6.50 per hour from October.

'Fair pay'

However, the SNP has argued that the minimum wage has failed to keep up with the cost of living since 2008.

The party said its research suggested that, if the inflation increases had been introduced five years ago, the lowest paid Scots would have been up to £675 better off.

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said: "With a 'Yes' vote and independence we will be able to ensure that around 150,000 of our lowest paid workers earn a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

She added: "We know one of the key drivers of poverty is earnings - which is why we would use the powers of independence to set a Scottish minimum wage guarantee. A minimum wage that rises - at the very least - in line with inflation.

"The Scottish government is already using the limited powers it has to take steps to help those on the lowest incomes - such as supporting the Scottish Living Wage of £7.45 per hour.

"But with independence we would have improved wages for all our workers, not just those under the responsibility of government."

An expert group set up by the Scottish government to examine welfare under independence recommended last month that the minimum wage should be brought up to the same level as the living wage, which is £7.65 an hour.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at the time that the government would "look closely" at the proposal.

'Vague promises'

However, Scottish Labour finance spokesman Iain Gray dismissed the proposal.

"If the SNP were serious about helping the low paid then they would have supported Labour amendments to the Procurement Bill on the living wage," he said.

"This is just more vague promises of jam tomorrow."

A Labour amendment to the Procurement Reform Bill, to make an hourly £7.65 living wage part of all public sector contracts, was defeated in the Scottish Parliament in March.

At the time the Scottish government argued that such a move would be in conflict with EU law.

The living wage is designed to reflect the actual cost of living and is paid voluntarily by some employers, while the minimum wage is a legal requirement.

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