At least half of voters from all four main parties support a 'substantial increase' in the minimum wage
When Labour introduced the minimum wage in 1999 the Conservatives opposed it, claiming it would put jobs at risk if employers could not afford it. Now a Conservative group called Renewal is putting pressure on their party to raise it, saying that cutting corporation tax or bringing businesses out of national insurance payments could make it affordable – and attract traditionally Labour working-class voters.
A new YouGov survey for the Sunday Times finds 66% of the public support a 'substantial increase' in the minimum wage while only 19% oppose, and at least half of voters from all the four main parties support it too.
Labour voters, whose party have already committed to raising the minimum wage if elected in 2015, are the most supportive of an increase (80%). A Liberal Democrat source said of Conservative hints at a wage-rise: “this is the fourth or fifth thing the Tories have tried to nick from us”. 70% of their voters support the idea. 66% of UKIP supporters and 50% of Conservatives also agree there should be an increase to the national minimum wage.
Despite pressure from Renewal, a member of Downing Street’s policy unit said: 'I think David Cameron would like to do it but he is cautious and I think he would defer to the chancellor on it …Unemployment has been a good news story for the last two years and we don’t want to rock the boat a year out from the election.'
However, a minister close to Chancellor George Osborne recently told the BBC that there was 'a strong case to look at' a minimum wage increase.