It may have escaped most people’s attention but this month sees a whole range of measures coming into effect which I think are worth highlighting including:
– A rise in the basic state pension, maternity pay, paternity pay and statutory sick pay
– 4 days extra paid holiday for full time workers (up to 28 from 24)
– Free prescriptions for people being treated with cancer
– Free vascular screening for those aged 40-74
– The right to request flexible working extended to parents of children up to the age of 16
I am proud that our Labour government continues to push forward a progressive and caring agenda in a way that would be unimaginable under a Tory government.
April also marks the tenth anniversary of the National Minimum Wage being paid. Millions of workers have benefited from this, two thirds of them women. It is so easy to be complacent about this but I remember the fierce opposition from the Tories and business leaders who argued that it would be catastrophic for jobs. I don’t know if the Tories would scrap the minimum wage if they ever got elected but you can bet your bottom dollar that they would fill it with holes in the form of opt-outs and exemptions allowing it to stagnate and become worthless.