Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is trending on X as he is expected to give a speech today at the Conservative Party conference in which he will confirm that the national living wage will go up in 2024. The wage is set to increase in April next year to £11 an hour.
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He is also expected to reiterate the government’s commitments to make benefits sanctions harsher in a move that will concern many who are currently supported by this scheme. His plan is to crack down on people claiming benefits who refuse to look for jobs.
The living wage increase
Hunt will say that the government is going to accept the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation to raise the minimum hourly pay in the UK. He will state:
That's the Conservative way of improving the lives of working people. Boosting pay, cutting tax.
But today, we go further with another great Conservative invention, the National Living Wage.
He will reference a promise made by the Conservatives to ‘raise the National Living Wage to two thirds of median income - ending low pay in this country’.
The current wage is set at £10.42 an hour, and it is to increase to £11.
I've always made it clear that hard work should pay, and today we're providing a well-earned pay rise to millions of people across the country.
Harder to access benefits
Hunt will also discuss the government’s plans regarding benefits. The benefit sanction regime is to make it harder for people who refuse to take ‘active steps’ to find work to then claim welfare. Proposals to address this issue are due to be set out in November’s Autumn Statement.
Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, Liz Kendall, suggested her party agreed to a certain extent:
[Labour] believes in responsibility - that those who can work, should look for work and take jobs when they are offered.
However, she said the ‘Tories have utterly failed to deliver’ when it comes to ‘real opportunities’ for Brits. She claims they need to ‘not write people off’ when they are struggling.
This comes amid criticism of the UK’s record-high tax bill, which is now the highest it has even been since WWII. The Chancellor spoke with BBC’s Jon Kay ahead of his speech. Kay suggested it was ‘a bit rich’ to talk about increasing the national living wage in this context:
That’s a bit rich, isn’t it, because people watching this morning know all too well - your own MPs know only too well - that the tax bill has never been higher in history.
Sky News: Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to confirm toughening of benefits sanctions while raising living wage
Express: Tax bill has never been higher!' Jeremy Hunt blasted on BBC with Tory rebellion growing
The Independent: Hunt warns of benefit cuts for people who won’t ‘actively look for work’