By Amy Packham, James Dixon, Jess Strudwick and Amelia Charman.
Brighton reaction to Conservative MP, Damian Collins’ minimum wage statement shows public outrage.
Minimum wage for a 16-17 year old is currently set at £3.68. Collins has argued for a reduction of this sum and encouraged young people to seek alternative means like busking. He said: “A businessmen told me ‘I would much rather get a school leaver at 16, get them to do an apprenticeship for two or three years. At 19, they will have the skills necessary to be able to enter the workforce on the national minimum wage. ‘”
Collins was privately educated and studied at Oxford University. He has previously said: “Gaining a job you wanted has always required a lot of personal motivation.”
We garnered a number of opinions from the Brighton community. None of these opinions supported Collins’ controversial view.
Hannah, 18, who studies at Brighton and Hove City College stated: “He [Collins] doesn’t really know what it’s like to not have money.” Her friend added: “At 14, I was earning £5 per hour so I don’t agree but when you’re younger you might want a bit of money.”
Some developed countries have a much higher minimum wage than the UK. An Australian student, 19, said “I would not work for less than £3.68 per hour. In Australia the minimum wage is £10 per hour!”
A Brighton mother saw his stance on unemployment as ‘outrageous’. She went on to say: “They deserve equal pay to older workers. It reflects badly on employers as young people will provide similar skills.”
We spoke with local busker Al, 55, in regards to the potential rise in competition he may soon face. “A student should be able to study without worry. That Tory MP couldn’t busk half as much as me.”
Trudy, the director of local business, Silver Scene was asked her thoughts on the prospect of young people in employment. She said: “We complain that young people are sitting on the dole, but how can they get a car, transport, a house if they are not earning a decent wage?”
It was evident that Collins’ statement has sparked such a negative backlash from the community, even by an Amnesty representative, who campaigns for a working minimum wage. “People should be treated equally whether they are old or young. This will just encourage the [Conservative] stereotype of ‘riff-raff’.”