NIESR: Hiking minimum wage too fast may undermine policy’s success

27 Nov 2019 11:55 AM

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Raising minimum wage levels too quickly risks undermining the strong consensus between employers, workers and political parties that has been built up during the past two decades, especially if the increases lead to falls in employment that are difficult to reverse, according to an election briefing by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

“The available evidence suggests there is scope to explore more ambitious increases in the minimum wage in the UK. We are, however, concerned about the politicisation of the minimum wage, and how this election has quickly turned into a bidding war over which political party can offer the highest minimum wage rates” said co-author Johnny Runge, Senior Social Researcher at NIESR. “The minimum wage has been a great policy success story over the last two decades, in part because of the close partnership and consensus across experts, employers, workers and political parties. This could be quickly undermined if political leaders alone take control of the future path of the minimum wage.” 

Co-author Andrew Aitken, Senior Economist at NIESRadded: “However, if the minimum wage is increased too quickly, it could harm jobs, particularly for part-time workers, younger workers or those in specific regions and occupations. It is vital that the next government gives the Low Pay Commission a clear mandate to pause and reconsider if any evidence emerges of negative effects on employment.”

Notes for editors:

This full General Election Briefing on the future Path of the Minimum Wage can be found here.

NIESR’s microsite containing briefings, podcasts and vodcasts on the General Election can be found here.

This briefing is supported by the Nuffield Foundation.

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact the NIESR Press Office: Phil Thornton on 0207 654 1923/  or Luca Pieri on 0207 654 1931/

Further details of NIESR’s activities can be seen on or by contacting Switchboard Telephone Number: +44 (0) 207 222 7665