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UK poorly paid workers lowest since 1980

Christian Fernsby |
UK's proportion of low-paid workers declined to its lowest level since 1980 and low pay could be eliminated altogether by the middle of the 2020s, the latest annual report from the Resolution Foundation revealed Thursday.

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According to the annual Low Pay Britain report, the number of low-paid workers across Britain fell by around 200,000 last year with the biggest declines seen in administrative and support services, and retail.

The think tank said the introduction of the National Living Wage, or NLW, in April 2016 helped to reduce low pay, to 17.1 percent of the workforce last year from 20.7 percent in 2015.

The NLW also raised the number of workers earning the legal minimum wages to a record 2 million without causing any significant negative impacts on jobs.

Also, there was no evidence that recent decreases in average hours worked by low earners were being driven by increases to the NLW.

The report suggested that the five-year ratcheting up of the NLW is due to finish next April, and that further big rises are in store after 2020.

"It's great that both main parties want to go even further on raising the minimum wage and eliminate low pay altogether. But such an ambitious move would transform the labour market, and must therefore be approached boldly but cautiously," Nye Cominetti, economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said.

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