Isabel Hardman

Are the Conservatives being honest about their new minimum wage policy?

Are the Conservatives being honest about their new minimum wage policy?
Text settings

The Conservatives have sent out a campaign email from David Cameron this evening promoting their key manifesto pledges. You'd expect that: now's the time to galvanise activists' support. But there is one line in there that jars:

'Everyone earning the Minimum Wage lifted out of income tax altogether.'

This isn't true. Cameron was quite careful in his speech today to say that the Tories will make sure 'no-one on the Minimum Wage who works 30 hours a week pays any income tax on their wages'. If you're working 40 hours a week on minimum wage pay, you will continue to pay income tax.

So when the email says ‘no one’, it only means those who work part-time on the minimum wage (which the government defines as 30 or fewer hours per week). The Low Pay Commission’s latest report estimates that this time last year, ​560,000 of the 1.4 million on the minimum wage were full-time - so two-in-five minimum workers WILL keep paying tax. The Conservatives aren’t making that clear in tonight’s email, but presumably, in the spirit of being open with voters, they will do. You wouldn't want to raise false hope before an election, after all.

Here's the email text:

At the heart of our manifesto is a simple proposition: we are the party of working people, offering you security at every stage of your life.

If you're looking for training or a good job; if you want to buy your own home; if you're raising a family and need help with childcare or a great school place; if you fall ill and need to rely on our NHS; if you are reaching retirement and want real security - we are there for you.

These past five years have been a critical period for our country.

Together, with the hard work of the British people, we have rescued our economy, created record numbers of jobs, and put Britain back on her feet.

But the next five years are much, much more important.

We are on the brink of something special. And our manifesto sets out how we will make this a country where those who work hard and do the right thing can enjoy a good life:

  • The personal tax-free allowance raised to £12,500
  • No 40p tax until you're earning £50,000
  • The family home taken out of Inheritance Tax
  • £8 billion more a year for our NHS - so it's there for your family, 7 days a week
  • Rail fares frozen for five years
  • Welfare controlled to reward work
  • Multinationals pursued so they pay their tax
  • The Right to Buy extended to 1.3 million extra families
  • 30 hours of free childcare a week for working families with 3 and 4 year-olds
  • Everyone earning the Minimum Wage lifted out of income tax altogether
  • We have come this far together. Let's not waste the past five years and let Labour drag us back to square one - instead, let's build on the progress we have made.

    PS: Thanks to @AssetRich for the below screen grab showing BBC North West Tonight being successfully misled over the minimum wage policy. The problem, of course, is that those on full time minimum wage work will wrongly think that they're being taken out of income tax.

    — Asset Rich (@AssetRich) April 14, 2015