Living Wage

I was pleased to speak recently in a Chamber Debate about the living wage. Supply and demand can drive progress, but there must be a manageable system based on human values — a decent living wage as part of the regulated limit below which no one should fall.

At a recent Parliamentary reception, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend David Arnott, said:

“Economics is not, and can never be, a morally neutral or ethics free zone. Humanity does not exist for the market but the market for humanity.”

Any morally legitimate vision of economics, he added, must respect and value the needs and contributions of all its members. I agree and certainly do not think the minimum hourly rate of £7.20 — a figure arrived at by researchers from Loughborough University on consulting with the public — is high, especially given the levels of income that obtain elsewhere in society.

The income gap between rich and poor is ever increasing, and I am tempted to say that a very modest amount of income redistribution would easily solve the problems in implementing a living wage.

The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.

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