British chancellor proposes hiking living wage to £10.50, or $13, per hour

British Chancellor Sajid Javid said Monday he plans to raise Britain’s national living wage to £10.50, or nearly $13, per hour.

Workers walk through Canary Wharf at the heart of London’s financial center. Under a new proposal, Britain’s living wage would increase to £10.50 next year — up from £8. File Photo by Hugo Philpott

Javid made the proposal at the Conservative Party’s national convention in Manchester, vowing to hike the current wage from £8.21, or $10.09.

“Over the next five years, we will make the U.K. one of the first major economies in the world to end low pay altogether,” Javid said, calling his Conservative Party the “real party of labor.”

Javid said the increased wage will help 60 percent of median wage earners by 2020 and 66 percent by 2024. It will also lower the living wage earners age to 21, down from 25, within five years. Javid’s office said the changes will affect 4 million British workers.

Paul Johnson, director of Britain’s Institute for Fiscal Studies, called Javid’s proposal “risky.”

“We would have just about highest minimum wage in advanced economies if it goes to two-thirds median,” Johnson tweeted. “That is a big (and risky) punt. The way we have a bidding war between Labor and Conservatives over [the] level of [minimum] wage is not healthy.”

Labor Party Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell called the proposal a “pathetic attempt at catch-up,” saying his party’s proposal would institute a £10 ($12.29) wage for all working Britons 16 and over, and increase it by a half-pound by 2024.

ByClyde Hughes