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TUC calls for minimum wage to be raised to £15 an hour ‘to put an end to low-pay Britain’ | Business News

The minimum wage should be raised to £15 an hour, the Trades Union Congress says, as it declares it is “time to put an end to low-pay Britain”.

Currently, workers aged 23 and over are entitled to a minimum wage of £9.50 with lower rates for younger employees, but the TUC says all workers should have the same entitlement, regardless of age.

Since the minimum wage was introduced, its level as a proportion of the median wage has increased – starting at 47% in 1999 and expected to reach 66% by 2024, although the TUC said that a more ambitious target of 75% is the “logical next step”.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “Every worker should be able to afford a decent standard of living.

“But millions of low-paid workers live wage packet to wage packet, struggling to get by – and they are now being pushed to the brink by eye-watering bills and soaring prices.

“For too long workers have been told that businesses can’t afford to pay them more. But again and again the evidence has shown that firms are still making profits and increasing jobs – we can afford higher wages.

“And higher wages are good for the economy – more money in the pockets of working people means more spend on our high streets.

“It’s time to put an end to low-pay Britain. Let’s get wages rising in every corner of the country and get on the pathway to a £15 per hour minimum wage.”

She said ministers should introduce fair pay agreements to increase pay and productivity in low-paid sectors; promote decent work above shareholder interests; and invest in good jobs in every part of the country.

“That’s how you boost pay packets and put Britain on a direct path to a £15 minimum wage.”

Proposals also include corporate governance reforms and a “life-long learning and skills strategy” designed to address labour shortages.

The call comes after inflation reached 10.1% in July and as the energy price cap is forecast to surge past £5,300 a year in April.

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Those two issues are the main drivers of a cost of living crisis that has prompted workers in some sectors to resort to industrial action as their wages fail to keep up.

The TUC said that the UK has experienced a “pay loss of historic proportions” due to an “abject failure” by successive Conservative governments to encourage pay rises.

Last week, the Office for National Statistics said workers suffered a record real-term pay slump of 4.1% after inflation in the three months to June.

When inflation was not factored in, regular pay, excluding bonuses, rose by 4.7% in the three months to June.

Wildfire risk raised to ‘exceptional’ – the highest it can be – as four day amber alert begins | UK News

The risk of fires from tinderbox dry conditions across parts of England and Wales has been raised to “exceptional” – the highest it can be – as a four-day amber weather warning comes into force.

The top level on the Fire Severity Index applies to much of southern England, and reaches as far west as Abergavenny in Wales, for this coming Sunday.

The Met Office has issued an amber heat warning running between Thursday and Sunday, which could see temperatures peak at 36C across this stretch.

South East, Southern and Welsh Water have all announced hosepipe bans for customers in areas they supply.

And Thames Water has signalled it will also introduce a ban in the coming weeks as the hot, parched summer continues to take its toll.

There have also been repeated warnings about the impact on agriculture, rivers and wildlife.

Fire Severity index is set to peak on Sunday Pic: Met Office
Image:
Fire Severity index is set to peak on Sunday Pic: Met Office

Read more: What are the rules on hosepipe bans, what are the exemptions and what do they mean?

Amber warning, what to expect:

Adverse health effects are likely to be experienced by those vulnerable to extreme heat

The wider population is likely to experience some adverse health effects including sunburn or heat exhaustion (dehydration, nausea, fatigue) and other heat related illnesses

Some changes in working practices and daily routines, likely to be required

An increased chance that some heat-sensitive systems and equipment may fail

More people are likely to visit coastal areas, lakes, rivers and other beauty spots, leading to an increased risk of water safety and fire-related incidents

Some delays to road, rail and air travel are possible, with potential for welfare issues for those who experience prolonged delays

Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna said: “The risk (of fires) is very high across much of central, southern and eastern England.

“Going into Friday and the weekend, it starts to increase further, going into the highest category of exceptional risk.”

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The UK braces for the next stifling few days

Worst summer for fires in three decades

Mark Hardingham, the chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council, told The Telegraph he “can’t remember a summer like this” in his entire 32-year career.

He said: “We’re not going to see temperatures as hot as we saw three weeks ago, but that doesn’t matter because the ground couldn’t get any drier than it already is.”

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There is also a heat health alert in place from the UK Health Security Agency, with experts advising people to look out for those who are older or with existing health conditions, as well as young children.

The latest analysis from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has warned low or even exceptionally low river flows and groundwater levels are likely to continue for the next three months in southern England and Wales.

A man stands in the basin of Grafham Water near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, where water is receding during the drought. Britain is braced for another heatwave that will last longer than July's record-breaking hot spell, with highs of up to 35C expected next week. Picture date: Monday August 8,
Image:
A man stands in the basin of Grafham Water near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, where water is severely receding

Rain relief?

But, Mr Petagna said rain could be on the horizon early next week.

“There are signs that we could get some rain next week, but details at the moment are uncertain,” he said.

He added the UK needs “a few weeks” of light rain to water the ground.

“What we really need is a few weeks of light rain to soak into the ground,” he said.

“Thunderstorms are more likely to cause some flooding issues because the ground is hard, the water can’t sink in.”