Wednesday, July 16, 2008

LibDem Westminster Enterprise spokesman says Liverpool people deserve less

Actually that is my paraphrasing of a Liverpool Echo story I spotted tonight.

It says that

"A senior politician has sparked a parliamentary row by saying the minimum wage should be lower in Liverpool than London.

Liberal Democrat business and enterprise spokesman Lorely Burt MP said the amount has "tremendously" less purchasing power in the capital than in Merseyside.

Mrs Burt, MP for Solihull in the West Midlands, insisted she was not arguing for a wage cut for Merssyde, but a system reflecting regional differences. She said "There are differences between Liverpool and London."

This tiny story features on page 21 so I would understand if you missed it yourself.

I would be interested to hear what Councillor Gary Millar makes of this story, he is the LibDem Executive Member for Enterprise and Tourism for Liverpool City Council.

I think it is massively more complicated than this MP is trying to suggest.

I have lived in four regions of England, and their prices were broadly and averagely the same, although the middle-class areas of each were always more expensive than the working class areas thereof.

We all knew that Yarm Presto was more expensive than Stockton Presto four miles away - and it is probably more expensive than Old Swan Tesco but not as much as Woolton Sainsbury's if we did the comparison.

We all know that Orkney petrol is much more expensive than Glasgow petrol - because of proximity to fuel terminals and we all know now that city housing costs more money than town housing. Liverpool's Housing market is considerably more expensive than that in Stockton or in Huddersfield for instance. But a house in Kensington, Liverpool is massively cheaper to buy or rent than a house in Mossley Hill.

And it is also true to say that Liverpool housing is cheaper than London. But this is getting very murky, isn't it?

Gas and Electricity, so far as I know, does not recognise regional costings, and we all know that there are councils in London where the council tax is a tiny fraction of what you might have to pay in a northern city. Wandsworth anyone?

So how can this Enterprise Spokesman for the national LibDem party make such a fundamental mistake?

I absolutely accept that housing is more money in London than the provinces, but she talks about purchasing power in a way that does not merely suggest rental levels.

I wonder what she has in her comparative shopping basket?

Beer of course is massively more expensive in London, is this MP trying to suggest that minimum wage earners have to consider the price of beer above all other expenditure?

Can anyone out there explain to me how the low paid of London deserve more than the low paid of Liverpool?

I am cross about this, can you tell?


Mark said...

I have lived in several places around the country, including London and London overall is expensive (much more expensive) than other places.

I am surprised to see someone in the Labour Party argue otherwise as trade unions have made huge amounts of noise in the past demanding that the London weighting extra salary payment for staff in jobs like the civil service should be higher.

I agree with the trade unions on that. If you really believe what you say, rather than just having a quick pop at someone in another party, then your logic means that not only do you not, but you want those payments to be abolised too if you really think London isn't more expensive to live in.

Would a headline, "Labour calls for cuts for low-paid London civil servants" be a fair summary of your views then?

It would seem to me to be as fair a description of them as your description of other people's views.

I hope your Labour colleagues in the trade unions don't take your advice and give up their work to get fair London weighting for workers.

Anonymous said...

This MP is clearly an idiot who engages her mouth before her brain. I note that she did not put an amendment to the salary settlement of MPs to make sure that regional differences were taken into account.

This is good old fashioned Liberal politics - help the poor but only so much as to keep them separate from the rich. At least with the Tories you know they couldn't give a toss.

Louise Baldock said...

Hi Mark,

You are right of course to mention London weighting, which I do support. But that is about giving people in London more, not about giving people in Liverpool less.

She was not calling for a rise for Londoners was she. Otherwise that would have been a very different article.

And I still dont see why she would pick on Liverpool because it is not a cheap place to live either. Cities are always more expensive than towns.

Paula Keaveney said...

Well actually she didn't pick on Liverpool, the mention of Liverpool was made by a Labour MP in the Commons. And as I, through someone else, pointed out to the journalist it was Liverpool C council that abolished the bottom two pay grades some time ago - a move not followed by the majority of other councils up and down the council.

Louise Baldock said...

Then I guess I owe the woman an apology, if she did not pick on Liverpool.

I have been dwelling on this all morning, should the minimum wage be different in different regions, and I just dont like the idea. Benefits are not paid out at different rates depending on where you live.

It would be the North-East and the North-West and Scotland that got less, it always is. And then it merely compounds the problem. If you have less then you can afford less and so prices have to be less to compensate. Self-perpetuating.

I am not an economist - as you can probably tell - but I know when something feels wrong, and this feels wrong.

old dick said...

In my part of Liverpool I pay my carer Marek (the Krakow chess champion three years running and nuclear fision specialist) what I regard as a living wage, ie 5 zlotys a day, roughly one english pound. As he thinks he is living in Kensington London not Kensington Liverpool perhaps I should put him in touch with Libdem woman and get her sort his case out, only joking, the less he knows the better.....after all he's only spend it or send it home