Tony Janio: Wages are starting to equalise after a decade

Cllr Tony Janio, leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council
Cllr Tony Janio, leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council

A couple of weeks ago, data showed that unemployment is the lowest in living memory, wages are rising at the fastest rate in over a decade and the attainment gap in schools is closing: in short, Conservative reforms are working.

With employment so plentiful, there has never been a better time to consider the workers who often keep the economy ticking-over at weekends and during holiday periods, often on low-paid contracts.

With a record 32.4m people employed in Britain, and another 300,000 entering the workforce over the last year, the news that the numbers of low-paid has just hit a record low is very welcome. Yes, despite a decade of difficult decisions under austerity to recover from the deepest UK recession since the Second World War, wages are starting to equalise.

So what’s going on? One factor has been the introduction of the national living wage which has pushed up pay among the poorest paid workers, and was announced in the Budget to be going up to £8.21 per hour from next year.

We are also bombarded with stories about how tough the employment market has become for millions of people because jobs are being filled with robots. The evidence, however, shows that the private sector is using automation and Artificial Intelligence to actually increase the demand for high paid jobs: people become more productive when they work with robots and computers, and their wages can thereby be increased. Often criticised, this attitude to the use of technology by the private sector has an excellent record of raising productivity, and therefore wages.

Whatever your views on the British economy, the election of a Labour administration, dominated by a hard-left momentum, that would have an overriding ambition to massively increase employment within the council, would be an unfortunate choice. It would only deliver low productivity, and thus poorer, services, and would expose the need for much higher council taxes.

Now is not the time for a cabal of crazy Corbynistas to control the council: it is time for calm and a return to prosperity under a Conservative administration from next May.