August 31 2014 Latest news:
Kay Atwal, Chief Reporter
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Sir Robin Wales is calling on the government to give local authorities more powers to enforce the minimum wage.
His call comes after research revealed that almost one in five working residents in the borough take home less than £6.19 an hour.
Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales has asked for tougher action after the statistics were revealed in independent research conducted by Ipsos MORI.
The research, based on reported working hours and earnings, highlights the importance of low pay as an issue and the need to put greater emphasis on ensuring workers’ rights are respected.
Sir Robin Wales said: “Many people do not realise that there is a hidden economy operating in the UK where workers are still not receiving the National Minimum Wage. It is a disgrace that laws introduced to prevent poverty pay are so poorly monitored and enforced.
“We’re on the side of businesses that play by the rules and we will continue to work closely with them to bring new investment to the borough. However, we will come down hard on those that flout the law. Local enforcement powers would enable us to build a thriving local economy full of opportunities for our residents to get into good quality employment. However, without the national recognition that pay abuse still happens, that’s just not possible.”
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage. Despite evidence presented by Newham Council that the law is widely flouted, only nine prosecutions have been made nationally since 2001.
Councils work closely with local businesses on a range of issues but currently have no investigative or enforcement powers to secure compliance with the minimum wage legislation. Sir Robin Wales is calling for these powers to be devolved to local authorities, alongside tougher penalties, to enable them to take direct action and prevent local workers from being exploited.