Sir George Bain delivers inaugural 50th anniversary lecture

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Sir George Bain calls for wider low pay debate

The architect of the National Minimum Wage called for a wider debate about low pay during a keynote address at MBS.

Delivering the first annual lecture commemorating the work of MBS’ founding director Grigor McClelland, Sir George Bain – who chaired the Low Pay Commission which introduced the Minimum Wage in 1998 – said the subsequent success of the policy should not “stop us from addressing its limitations”.

Outlining his vision for reform, Sir George said the current model was “too narrow, too short-sighted and too restrictive”. In particular, with more than one in five workers still low paid in the UK, he said the policy had failed to have a ripple effect and drive wages higher across the economy. “If you get a job in catering, cleaning, social care or fast food, the odds are that you will be offered the minimum wage plus a penny.”

Added Sir George: “The model from 17 years ago was never going to be retained forever, and we do not serve it well by preserving it. If we leave it unchanged we have to recognise that the Minimum Wage will cease to make a significant difference to combating low pay in the UK.”

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