Increasing the minimum wage in the budget has not been ruled out by Minister of State for Employment and Small Business. It comes after Independent Alliance Ministers suggested that the minimum wage be increased to €10.

Over the weekend, ministers Finian McGrath and John Halligan called for an increase of 85c to the minimum wage.

The calls are likely to cause divisions in government especially after the Low Pay Commission had recommended the national minimum wage be increased by 10c in their report published earlier this month.

Speaking yesterday, Minister of State Pat Breen said the commission was set up to decide on an “appropriate level” of minimum pay.

He said it is not for him to comment on the policies put forward by the Independent Alliance but said Ireland already has one of the highest minimum wage rates in Europe: “I can’t comment on what the Independent Alliance have to say on this, it’s a matter for themselves to decide and something they have to talk about,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“A decision in relation to the Low Pay Commission will be taken in the context of the budget itself. They didn’t come to this decision lightly; they took months to make this decision.

“I think there was 32 submissions, they spoke to people all over the country and they looked at the whole Irish economy, yes the economy is growing but it hasn’t been growing throughout the regions. Employment is growing, but still unemployment is very high.”

He said the commission didn’t have data around the increase of 50c that was introduced last January saying that this information would have been useful to its work.

“But the biggest concern, and I think it is mentioned in the report as well, is of course Brexit, the decision of the UK to exit the EU, obviously that something that we don’t know the impact of, the volatility of sterling and how this will impact on the regions particularly the border regions.”

Asked whether he would favour increasing the minimum wage in the budget he said: “I am not ruling out anything at the moment in relation to what the government will decide.

“It’s going to be a collective responsibility for the cabinet and obviously this report has just been delivered to the Government. We have three months to decide on this now, in relation to whether the recommendations will be accepted or not.

“It’s a matter for the Government to decide on and it’s a matter for cabinet,” he said.


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