Three in four UK opinion formers would support a substantial increase in the minimum wage, from its current level of £6.31 an hour to £7 or above
A large majority of UK opinion formers support a substantial increase in the minimum wage, with 73% in favour of raising it. Less than one in five (18%) oppose this policy. UK opinion formers are thus even more strongly in support of raising the minimum wage than the general public, of which a slightly lower proportion – two in three – came out in favour for this in a recent YouGov poll.
Those opinion formers that would vote Labour at the next general election are most inclined to support substantially raising the minimum wage, with 95% for; 75% of Liberal Democrat voters support the policy too. Conservative voters are somewhat less likely to be in favour of this, with 61% for but 30% against; and UKIP voters are more divided on the issue, with a majority of 53% for a substantial increase, but a large minority of 40% against.
Asked about what they believe the minimum wage should be, 75% of UK opinion formers state the minimum wage should be at least £7 an hour, i.e. the rate recommended by the Low Pay Commission. 35% believe the minimum wage should be £7.65 an hour or more, as called for by the Living Wage campaign.
On average, the opinion formers believe the rate should be set at £7.49 an hour. Labour voters are more likely to support a higher rate, with a mean rate of £7.69. Some Conservative and UKIP voters, however, are against the idea of a regulated minimum wage – 13% of Conservative voters and 21% of UKIP voters do not think there should be a regulated minimum wage at all.
Of the 575 opinion formers that support a substantial increase in the minimum wage, a very strong majority call for increasing it immediately, with 86% holding this view. Only 11% believe the Government should wait a few years until the economy is stronger before it substantially raises rates.
Impact on organisation
Overall, opinion formers tend not to believe there would be any impact on their organisation’s bottom line, were there to be a substantial increase in the minimum wage. A majority (53%) of those whose organisations would be affected by a hike in the minimum wage do not see any overall negative or positive effects. 27% however do believe this would have a negative impact on their organisations. On the other hand, 16% actually see a positive impact on their organisation’s bottom line, if the minimum wage rates were to increase substantially.
Opinion formers working in certain sectors are more likely to report a possible negative impact on their organisation’s bottom line. 31% of those working in business, and 31% of those in education, anticipate a negative impact – compared to only 15% in politics.
Max Kowalewski, Research Executive at YouGov said, ''As the economy is picking up speed, it is interesting to note that UK opinion formers are strongly in favour of raising the minimum wage substantially. Countering fears that this policy may harm employers, most opinion formers state that they do not believe raising rates would have a negative effect on their organisation’s bottom line.''
For the study YouGov completed online interviews with 787 opinion formers from its UK Opinion Formers Panel. Opinion Formers are leaders in their field from business, media, politics, NGOs, academia, arts, culture, and beyond. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27th January and 04th February. The figures have not been weighted.