Labour's fairer wages plans could include 'maximum pay level' - Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has revived the idea of a "maximum pay level", saying it could form part of Labour's plans to control pay ratios between the highest and lowest earners within companies.

Monday, 13th March 2017, 1:18 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:04 am
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

In January, the Labour leader was forced into an embarrassing climbdown on the idea of a wage cap after business leaders criticised the idea. At the time, an aide said he "mis-spoke" when asked about a "cap" during a radio interview.

On Monday, Mr Corbyn said pay ratios are "probably a more effective way" of ensuring fairer wages but that Labour was consulting on the proposals and that "it could well include a maximum pay level".

He said people are "fed up with seeing executive pay 180 times the average pay of a worker in most organisations and the gap getting wider and wider".

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Mr Corbyn told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "On the maximum pay rate, we want to introduce a ratio, we're consulting on what the ratio would be.

"That could be, we haven't decided yet, we haven't decided as a party, I'm not a dictator, what we haven't decided yet (is) what (it's) going to be.

"It could well include a maximum pay level, but let's look at the issue in the context of inequality and injustice in our society, and that I think is really what economic debate should be about.

"It can't be right, the levels of inequality in our society."

Seeking to clarify Mr Corbyn's comments, a spokeswoman for the leader said the maximum pay level idea would be "in relation to the ratio, so a maximum wage as a proportionate rate", rather than a cap.

Turning to Labour's spending plans, Mr Corbyn said he does not recognise suggestions that the party has already set out £63 billion in spending commitments and would struggle to raise the money.

It comes after shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey was challenged on how Labour would pay for its spending pledges in an interview on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

The presenter said official figures analysed by the BBC show that Labour would raise £30 billion from reversing cuts to inheritance tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax and the bank levy, leaving a hole in the Labour numbers.

But Mr Corbyn said Labour's planned reversal of corporation tax cuts, inheritance tax cuts, and tax cuts for the highest earners would raise £70 billion according to independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) figures.

"The calculation of OBR figures shows that, by 2022, £70 billion will have been given to corporations and the very wealthiest by tax breaks and tax cuts," Mr Corbyn told Today.

"We would reverse the corporation tax cut, yes, and put corporation tax up.

"It (the £70 billion) doesn't all come from corporation tax; some of it comes from inheritance tax and some of it comes from the threshold for high pay.

"So we would seek to raise taxation income at the top end rather than the bottom end, but our programme is not complete, I fully concede that; it could not be - we are still working that out.

"So the figure you gave and was used on the Marr programme yesterday (£63 billion) is not one that we recognise."

Mr Corbyn said Labour's electoral prospects "can and will get better" as he appeared to blame the media for focusing on "political process" rather than inequality and social injustice for the party's poor performance in opinion polls.

"We're getting out there more and more, putting our case for social justice in our society -that's what it's about," he said.

"We will be doing better, don't you worry about that, and one day we'll get into media discussions and debates which are about inequality and injustice in society, as you've kindly allowed me to do this morning, rather than political process which absorbs itself into the mindset of a media world, rather than the world of poverty and injustice in our society."