Johann Hari shows us how not to attack David Cameron. He writes:
In a few days, the British minimum wage rises by 30p an hour. It doesn’t sound like much – the cost of a pint of milk – but to more than one million people, it will add up to a wage increase of £625 a year. When you earn just £11,000, that’s the difference between your kids getting to go on holiday this summer or not. Just over a year ago, David Cameron vehemently opposed this increase.
The thing is, Cameron was right.
The obvious reason is that higher minimum wages jeopardize (slightly) the jobs and hours of the low paid.
The less obvious reason is that the minimum wage hike doesn't mean workers gain £625 a year.
Take a single parent on £11,000 a year. She sees only 30p of every £1 rise in wages. The other 70p goes in higher tax or lower benefit - it's table 1.2b of this massive pdf. So, she gains £187.50 - if that is, she keeps her hours and job.
The minimum wage, then, is a way of transferring income from bosses to the Treasury, more so than a way of helping the low-paid.
This is not to say Johann is wrong to attack Cameron - the man's a slimy little turd. It's just that his opposition to the minimum wage rise is one of the few reasons not to despise him.
Another thing. It's pedantic, but to earn £11,000 at the minimum wage of £5.05 means working 2178 hours a year. This would give you a rise of £653 a year on unchanged hours. Is Johann assuming a small cut in hours? Or are his sums wrong?