In the budget yesterday, the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced a new National Living Wage which will replace the National Minimum Wage. It's a bit higher, at £7.20/hour from April compared to the current NMW of £6.50. This is to reflect the fact that the minimum wage is not a 'living wage'.
Except of course this is ridiculous. This is an astonishingly audacious misuse of names of things.
The National Minimum Wage is whatever the government says it is. It's the minimum that companies are legally allowed to pay their employees who are aged over 21. It could be £1.50 or it could be £25 - it's not related to anything in particular. The living wage is a measure of how much money is required to live on, and it's based on the actual cost of living in the UK (currently £7.85, or more in London). That means that you simply can't introduce a 'living wage' that is anything other than the actual living wage. If you do, you're just using a name for one thing to label an entirely different thing. This is at best a bit daft and at worst deliberately deceitful. He might as well have just promised everyone a kitten and then introduced a new tax called a Kitten.
It's so brazen. Already there's a #CallingThingsTheLivingWageThatArent hashtag.
(For those who prefer their wages conceptualised as an annual salary, the current NMW is about £12,500 (£11,500 after tax) and the current living wage - the real one, not the made up one - is about £15,000 (£13,300 after tax).)