David Cameron says 'Britain needs a pay rise' as businesses benefit from economic recovery

Union leaders dismissed his Chambers of Commerce speech as 'empty words'

Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 10 February 2015 11:06
David Cameron says 'Britain needs a pay rise'
David Cameron says 'Britain needs a pay rise'

David Cameron will say Britain needs a pay rise today as he urges business leaders to pass on the benefits of growth in the economy.

The Prime Minister is expected to talk about the Conservatives' achievements during their term in the Coalition at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference.

In his speech, Mr Cameron will renew his call for British workers to get a pay rise now that the economy is growing again.

“Economic success can't just be shown in the GDP figures or on the balance sheets of British businesses...but in people's pay packets and bank accounts and lifestyles,” he will say.

"The most recent figures show that wages are already growing faster than inflation and as the economy continues to grow it's important this continues and that everyone benefits.

“Put simply - it's time Britain had a pay rise.”

Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna will also speak to the conference to push Labour’s pro-business message after the party’s strategy was criticised by some business heads.

The Prime Minister is expected to continue the attack, saying: “For us, business is not a conspiracy of runaway profits, depressed wages, inequality and unfairness. It is the best generator of growth, wealth, work and opportunity there is.”

Stefano Pessina, the acting chief executive of Boots, warned that a Labour government would be a “catastrophe”

Labour has insisted that its vows to tackle tax avoidance are not anti-business and will make people pay their “fair share”, rewarding work and supporting entrepreneurs.

The Prime Minister, who hopes that growing economic confidence will boost the chances of Tory success at the general election, will claim his party has achieved “astounding job creation” and the economic recovery meant “1,000 more people in work, on average, every single day since the election” in 2010.

Mr Cameron is expected to highlight the Government delivering “the first real-terms increase in the minimum wage since the crisis” and indicate that he wants to go further, with the current trajectory set to take the benchmark to over £8 an hour by 2020.

“The conditions have not been this good for a long time. We've got the strongest growth for seven years,” he will tell the conference in Westminster.

Some Labour members are worried that Ed Miliband’s approach is damaging the party's standing with voters (Getty)

But union leaders dismissed the Prime Minister's comments as "empty words".

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: "Since David Cameron became Prime Minister, the average wage is worth £2,500 less a year, the worst fall in living standards since Queen Victoria was on the throne.

“Saying it would be nice if wages went up is no more than pre-election mood music. If elected again his policies would do the opposite."

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "If Cameron was serious about giving Britain a pay rise then he'd put his money where his mouth is and immediately boost the minimum wage by at least £1.50 an hour with the promise of a living wage. Instead we have empty words, which don't put food on the table or pay the rent."

John Longworth, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, told the BBC he believed some businesses already had given workers a pay rise on their own initiative and expected more to follow suit.

“As I go around the country and the economy picks up I see businesses giving pay rises,” he added. “It helps spread the benefits of economic growth.. I'm expecting to see increasing wage rises.

"They (businesses) are working hard where they can get to a point where they can share growth."

Additional reporting by PA

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