Letter: Minimum wage

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The Independent Online
Sir: Young people will be appalled by proposals to exempt them from the minimum wage ("Loophole may leave young workers unprotected by low pay law", 28 November).

In 1995, 16-24 year olds accounted for one in three of those earning pounds 2.50 per hour or less. From 1985 to 1995 average pay for young people fell by up to 12 per cent of the national average wage, while youth unemployment rose to double the national average.

Lower wages don't make it easier for young people to get work, just harder to live on it. Too many government policies assume young people can live on less. Income support for 16- to 17-year-olds has been removed and training allowances frozen. Housing benefit and job-seekers allowance are lower for under-25s. Unfortunately, food, clothes and housing are not.

Sadly, young people rarely scrutinise government or make a fuss. If the Government sought to reduce the cost of the minimum wage by latching on to the one group who will not complain and whom the general public finds it easiest to discriminate against, it could not do better. But that does not make it ethical or fair

MARTIN WILSON

Chair

British Youth Council

London N1

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