CHANCELLOR Sajid Javid claimed the Tories are now the “workers’ party” as he delivered a jumbo pay rise to the nation’s most struggling yesterday.
He told them he is hiking the minimum wage to £10.50 an hour by 2024 — from its £8.21 level today.
The surprise rise was the centrepiece of his first speech as Treasury boss to the Tory party’s annual conference in Manchester.
In a second move, Mr Javid also promised to “help the next generation of go-getters” by lowering the minimum wage’s age threshold from 25 to 21.
And he is ensuring the wage level will always match at least two-thirds of median earnings — the international definition of low pay. The package of measures will “end low pay altogether”, he said.
He also told the Tory faithful: “The hard work of the British people really is paying off.
“It’s clear it’s the Conservatives who are the real party of labour. We are the workers’ party.”
But businesses baulked because of the extra costs for them. And Treasury aides would not deny last night that the moves may hike employers’ wage bills by £16billion.
- Pledged he was ready to “draw on the full armoury” of financial measures — such as tax cuts and public spending — to protect the nation from the choppy waters of a No Deal Brexit;
- Unveiled a £500million Youth Investment Fund to roll out 60 new youth centres and upgrade 360;
- Confirmed £4billion of emergency funding for charities and other groups reliant on EU subsidies if there is No Deal at the end of this month;
- Revealed a “Brexit Red Tape Challenge” to scrap unnecessary rules passed by the EU; and
- Promised a government blueprint for further devolution in England to hand down more power to local councils.
Mr Javid’s low-pay action means minimum-wage workers will be paid 95p an hour more than they were expecting by 2024. Before his intervention, the wage was forecast to be £9.55 an hour within five years.
The move is also a key general election move to try to see off Labour’s promise of raising the minimum wage to £10 immediately.
A source close to the Chancellor said: “We’ve got a battle with Labour in this space, we need to own it.”
An aide to Mr Javid — who is the son of a bus driver who came from humble roots — added: “This is a personal issue for Sajid, he knows what low pay looks like.”
It’s clear it’s the Conservatives who are the real party of labour. We are the workers’ party.
Campaigners welcomed the moves. Resolution Foundation think tank boss Torsten Bell said it “will take UK to top of the minimum wage league”.
But business chiefs warned it would run the risk of putting small firms out of business.
UKHospitality, which represents businesses employing service-industry workers, dubbed it “a double whammy of a further unprecedented cost increase”.
And the Federation of Small Businesses’ national chairman Mike Cherry called on Mr Javid to institute “more support to help small employers” meet his ambition.
The Chancellor also tore into Labour, delighting the Manchester audience, which included the PM’s special advisor Dominic Cummings.
The Sun Says
EX-CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has had a rapid and richly deserved fall from grace.
He was always a disastrous choice, paralysed by caution and with a bizarre capacity for staggeringly crass outbursts.
Even he has excelled himself by promoting a famously debunked conspiracy theory about Brexit.
Remainer Hammond seriously claims Boris Johnson is “backed by speculators who have bet billions on a hard Brexit”. This smear has zero evidence. Remain-backing City experts and even former Labour advisers say it makes no sense.
Not only that, but Boris badly wants a deal. No Deal is just the fallback.
This goes beyond Hammond’s usual rubbish. Here is a former statesman so deranged by Brexit that he will use baseless fiction to tarnish the leader of the party he represented for decades.
In July he was running the nation’s finances. Now he is a broken backbencher, with no party, in a tinfoil hat.
His successor is very different.
Sajid Javid’s surprise announcement of a thumping rise to the Living Wage will be great news for four million low-paid workers, many of them Sun readers.
With the age threshold lowered from 25 to 21, it’s a bonus for millennials too.
Firms will fret about extra costs. That’s a minor worry next to the nightmarish burdens of a Corbyn Government. If anything we’d bring the rise in faster.
The Sun urged Boris to pick a dynamic Chancellor after three years of Hammond. And Saj is off to a flier.
‘TEARING THE FABRIC OF OUR DEMOCRACY’
Mr Javid mocked Jeremy Corbyn over his confusing flip-flopping on leaving the EU. Playing with the Labour logo, he dubbed him “a man with many Brexit positions, not the few”.
Mr Javid also insisted he and his next-door neighbour Boris Johnson were “partners” with a very close working relationship — despite rumours of tensions between them.
And the Chancellor delivered an impassioned plea on the need to deliver Brexit.
While conceding No Deal had risks, he said: “The most reckless course of all would be to not deliver Brexit at all.
“A fabric that has been carefully woven together over centuries. And if we do that, I fear we may not be able to stitch it up again.
“If people are going to have faith in the ballot box, we absolutely have to follow through on that vote.”
Tomorrow the conference will hear from Home Secretary Priti Patel as she vows to restore the Tories’ battered reputation on law and order.
She will tell voters that the Government has listened to their worries about the bloodshed on Britain’s streets.
And she will declare: “To the police service — we back you. And to the criminals I simply say this — we are coming after you.”
Her speech comes just days after she announced plans to hand Taser guns to 10,000 more cops.
Separately last night, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland unveiled plans to axe automatic early release for serious violent criminals and sexual offenders.
Instead of being let out halfway through their sentences, they will now have to spend at least two-thirds of it behind bars.
The new proposals mean a rapist sentenced to 14 years will have to serve 9.3 years instead of seven.
Saj mum is proud as Punj
SAJID Javid charmed the Tory faithful yesterday — by addressing his mum from the conference stage in Punjabi.
The Chancellor asked his mum Zubaida: “Did you ever think we’d be here? Do you remember Dad’s first shop used to be just down the road?”
Rochdale-born Mr Javid added: “Mum thought it was a big deal when she watched the first Asians move into Coronation Street, here in Manchester.
“Well, now she’s watched as the first Asians move into Downing Street.”
Mr Javid also teased Downing Street neighbour Boris Johnson. He said: “We share the same vision of One Nation conservatism and we spend the same amount of time brushing our hair.”
Mr Buckland said: “We’re going to restore faith in the sentencing system. We believe release should be earned. We owe it to the victims.”
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It wouldn’t cover murderers, as they already have to serve their whole tariff before going in front of the Parole Board.
Boris Johnson has already vowed to hire 20,000 more police officers and ensure child killers get “life” terms.
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