Matthew Hancock: Under 25’s not productive enough for living wage

After Osborne’s summer budget unions criticised his choice to only pay those above 25 the new living wage. Those under 25 would continue to earn the current minimum wage rateset at £6.70 per hour, those 18-20 years £5.30 and under 18 years £3.87.

Trade union Unison said the remarks showed the Government was “out of touch”, while Labour claimed Mr Hancock had let “the cat out of the bag”, whilst a poll for the Huffington Post published last week showed the majority of Britons – 66 per cent – believe the new higher rate should be given to under 25s.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Hancock defended the different rates.

He said: “This was an active policy choice. Youth unemployment, whilst falling quite sharply, is still a long way above the unemployment rate for the over 25s.

“Anybody who has employed people knows that younger people, especially in their first jobs, are not as productive, on average.

“Now there are some who are very productive under the age of 25 but you have to set policy for the average. It was an active choice not to cover the under 25s.”