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Minimum wage 'most successful government policy in the past 30 years'

Published 7th January, 2011 by Neil Nixon

Minimum wage 'most successful government policy in the past 30 years'

A survey of political experts has named the minimum wage as the most successful government policy of the past 30 years. Researchers at the Institute for Government polled 159 members of the Political Studies Association for the project, as the policy beat other popular initiatives such as Sure Start children’s centers and the Northern Ireland Peace Deal.

The minimum wage was introduced in April 1999 as Labour acted upon one of its core manifesto pledges in the run-up to the 1997 general election. Although the policy was initially opposed by the Conservatives, who argued it would have a damaging effect on business, the minimum wage now has the rare distinction of garnering universal cross-party support.

The minimum wage was £3.60 per hour when it was first introduced, and has been raised incrementally over the past decade to its current rate of £5.93 an hour. The rate is lower for workers under the age of 21.

Mark Woodhead, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, said: “The research indicates that the most popular and successful policies are the ones that have a positive impact on a large number of the population. The minimum wage has seen the wages of thousands of cleaners increase while giving employers a clear benchmark of their obligations to their workers, and despite the early hostility to the policy, it is now a well-established part of our national identity. I hope that politicians of all stripes will take note of the findings, as it is clear that beyond the day to day goings on in Westminster, they will be really remembered for implementing policies that make a difference to people’s lives.”

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