This week around two million people in the UK will benefit from a pay rise as the National Minimum Wage is increased by 4.9%.
This increase, from £7.83-an-hour to £8.21-an-hour, coupled with a rise in the income tax thresholds, means people will have more money in their pockets.
I welcome these changes, it is right that people who work hard are rewarded.
An important principle of any welfare policy is that it should always pay to work.
Since 2010, unemployment has gone down in the UK and it is now at the lowest level since the 1970s, private sector employment is up by 3.8 million and there are now 665,000 fewer children in workless households.
Here in Dartford, the unemployment rate is just 1.9%, with the UK’s employment rate at an all-time high.
This good employment rate is thanks to the hard work of a number of organisations including the town’s Job Centre and The Learning Shop at Bluewater.
Since the National Living Wage was introduced in 2015, it has been steadily increasing and this year’s change means people who receive this rate of pay will now be £2,750-a-year better off compared to 2015.
Additionally, the increase in the personal tax allowance to £12,500, means that many of the UK’s lowest earners will no longer pay any income tax at all.
After years of austerity, it is good to see that wages are now rising faster than prices. Having a strong economy is key to low unemployment but we must not be complacent.
I hope this month’s changes will make a real difference to the millions of people they will benefit and I will continue to work hard to ensure policies are in place to ensure it always pays to work.