HC Deb 01 April 2004 vol 419 cc1594-5W
Huw Irranca-Davies

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the impact of the introduction of the National Minimum Wage for 16 to 17-year-olds on the numbers of young people staying in education or training until the age of 18. [164550]

Mr. Sutcliffe

The Government are committed to ensuring that young people reach the age of 19 with the skills they need to compete in a modern, global economy. Our ambition is that UK staying-on rates after 16 should be among the highest in the OECD.

The new minimum wage rate that will be introduced for 16 and 17-year-old workers at £3.00 per hour with effect from 1 October 2004 has been set with this concern very much in mind. First, the great majority of young workers are already being paid in excess of this rate, and research commissioned by the Low Pay Commission for their latest report concluded that a new minimum wage rate introduced at this level would have negligible effects on education participation. Second, Education Maintenance Allowances will be implemented nationally this autumn and these will provide payments of up to £30 per week for young people who choose to continue in full-time education after reaching compulsory school leaving age. The report of the 16–19 Financial Support Review, "Supporting young people to achieve: towards a new deal for skills", was published alongside the budget. That report sets out the Government's proposals to ensure that young people aged 16–19 have the support and incentives they need to participate in education and training.

Brian Cotter

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many complaints in each year since its introduction have been received relating to alleged underpayment of the national minimum wage; how many of these complaints in each year have been investigated; how many employers in each year were

1999–2000 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03 12003–04
Number of complaints 4,682 2,365 1,722 1,998 1,786
Number investigated 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Number of employers not complying (£) 1,280 2,119 1,937 1,996 1,961
Underpayment identified 1,242,341 3,034,373 5,135,799 3,585,941 2,253,176
1 Up to February 2004


The Inland Revenue investigate all complaints about underpayment of the minimum wage. In addition to complaints, they also use tax credit and other data to identify employers who they believe may not be compliant with the minimum wage.