Labour’s Hucknall living wage debate

Rachel Reeves, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary visited Arena Hair in Hucknall to talk about the Living Wage.  She was joined by Labour's Sherwood candidate Leonie Matheers and owner of Arena Hair Martin Leach.
Rachel Reeves, Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary visited Arena Hair in Hucknall to talk about the Living Wage. She was joined by Labour's Sherwood candidate Leonie Matheers and owner of Arena Hair Martin Leach.

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and pensions Rachel Reeves visited Hucknall to back Labour candidate Leonie Mathers.

On Thursday, the pair visited Arena Hair, on Duke Street, which is a living wage employer, to discuss the minimum wage and standards of living - two issues at the centre of the national debate as the election looms.

Ms Reeves said: “One in four working people aren’t paid a living wage. It has been a really tough time for people. We have got to do something about it. Labour are committed to raising the minimum wage to at least £8 per hour by 2019. We will be providing help for small businesses with tax rebates to encourage them to pay it.”

The Office of National Statistics claims that the average person is now £1,200 worse off than they were at the start of the coalition government. She added that job insecurity is on the rise as the number of zero hour contracts exceeds 1.8 million, with VAT increases and the cost of fuel also combining to hit people.

“We will ban zero hour contracts,” said Ms Reeves. “I have been speaking to Martin who owns Arena Hair. He says you get the best people and you retain them by paying well. The manageress started there 15 years ago sweeping the floor! We want more people to get that dignity and security. We should be supporting firms like Arena Hair. If you work regular hours you should have a regular contract.”

She said that the consequence of not paying a living wage impacted on the social security system.

Ms Mathers added: “The more people earning the living wage, the fewer tax credits need paying.”

The Labour candidate described herself as ‘confident’ about her chances of becoming Sherwood’s next MP.

She said: “People make up their minds over policies these days, rather than tribal loyalties.”