A new poll has revealed that 65 percent of the British public supports raising the minimum wage to £15 per hour in the coming years.
The research, undertaken by Survation on behalf of think tank Autonomy, asked 1,001 individuals across the country whether they supported the prospect of the current £8.91 minimum hourly rate rising gradually to a £15 level ‘over the next few years.’ More than a third—37%—answered that they ‘strongly supported’ the rise, and a further 28% answered with ‘somewhat support’. Only 14% either strongly or somewhat opposed the measure.
Support for the policy unites people from across the political spectrum, including Tory voters (59% support, 23% against) as well as both Leave (64%) and Remain (69%) voters. Support is also spread throughout all age groups—from 18-34 (66%) to 65+ (59%)—and earnings brackets, and is high in ‘Red Wall’ regions, including the Midlands (65%) and the North of England (62%).
‘With rising inflation and the effects of a pandemic that has put severe strains on people’s livelihoods, promises of a £10 an hour minimum wage are beginning to look outdated and insufficient,’ according to Will Stronge, Director of Research at Autonomy. ‘As we come out of the biggest economic crisis of our times, a higher minimum wage is an obvious starting point for building back better. £15 an hour is a fair and decent wage which would boost living standards for many workers across the country.’
The new figures follow the resignation of Andy McDonald MP as Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights and Protections on Monday. According to McDonald’s resignation statement, this decision was prompted by Labour’s leadership asking him to argue against a £15 minimum wage in a compositing meeting of the party’s annual conference this weekend.
Writing in Tribune on Tuesday, McDonald called the Labour leadership’s existing policy of £10 an hour ‘desperately outdated.’ ‘After many months of a pandemic when we made commitments to stand by key workers, I simply cannot now look those same workers in the eye and tell them they are not worth a wage that is enough to live on, or that they don’t deserve security when they are ill.’
Following McDonald’s resignation, delegates at Labour Conference voted unanimously in favour of a £15 minimum wage as part of an anti-fire-and-rehire motion brought by Unite the union. The motion is not binding, and it remains to be seen whether the party’s leadership will update the party’s policy position accordingly; prior to the vote, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds had said that Labour will reassess its position closer to the next election.
In the days after the Shadow Cabinet resignation, photographs which emerged of Keir Starmer campaigning with McDonald’s restaurant workers for £15 an hour in 2019 caused renewed debate about the party leader’s stance. ‘It is a fact that Keir Starmer did support £15 an hour until recently and he has been on protest demanding it,’ Diane Abbott told the BBC’s Today Programme.
Recent years have seen wages in Britain undergo the longest period of wage stagnation since the Napoleonic Wars. This flatlining has taken place alongside rising living costs, which are set to spike even further this winter as the public faces growing tax, food, and energy bills, which will hit the lowest earners the hardest.
‘This latest polling shows that the people of this country have a renewed awareness of the importance of the work done by millions of low-paid workers,’ Andy McDonald MP told Tribune in response to the research. ‘It is critical that Labour delegates’ vote in favour of raising the minimum wage to £15 per hour and increasing sick pay to a living wage is honoured.’