A factory worker today challenged the Prime Minister to match Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to raise the minimum wage to £10-a-hour.
Theresa May was asked by the worker in Leeds to echo the Labour leader’s policy in order to help working parents afford childcare.
The man told the Tory leader that for many parents there was simply no point returning to work as the cost of childcare eats up the wages earned.
The current National Living Wage is £7.50-a-hour, with the minimum wage for 21 to 24-year-olds £7.05.
May refused to guarantee increasing the rate to £10, instead claiming that putting Corbyn in Downing Street would “wreck the economy” and cost jobs.
During the grilling from workers at the Bi-Fold doors factory in Morley, just outside Leeds, May was also asked about the rights of EU citizens in the UK and the reduction in child benefit for high earners.
But it was the question on Corbyn’s minimum wage plan which caused May the greatest discomfort.
After saying that “parents are now thinking they are better off not working” due to childcare costs, the man said: “Jeremy Corbyn is saying to put wages up to £10, that’s the only thing that is going to help us out. Other than that, nothing’s going to help us. We need money. Bills will go up eventually.”
He added: “We need help now. We need help with childcare, not bills that are going to decrease over five years.”
May responded by claiming “quite a lot” has been done on childcare provision, but it was too early to see what the impact was on parents returning to work.
After pointing out the Tories had introduced a National Living Wage – set at a higher rate than the minimum wage available for under-25s – May said: “Whatever Jeremy Corbyn says about the levels he would like pay to be at, what I don’t want to see is a Government which, I believe in his case, would wreck the economy with the plans that he’s got and that would mean less money for our NHS, it would mean fewer jobs, businesses going under.
“What’s absolutely fundamental to everything is making sure we get the overall health of the economy right so business grow, we can see more secure jobs and we can see higher pay jobs.”