Now you’ve got certainty give staff a pay rise, Michael Gove tells business chiefs

NIcholas Cecil
Michael Gove arrives at the Cabinet Office: AFP via Getty Images

Business chiefs have been told by Michael Gove to pass on the benefits of a majority Conservative government by increasing wages for workers.

The Cabinet minister also revealed that there will be specific legislation in the Queen’s Speech on workers’ rights and on protecting the environment to ensure that they are higher in Britain than the “floor” standards laid down by the European Union.

Mr Gove said that the Government recognised that it had to deliver change, including for first-time Tory voters in previously Labour constituencies, many of whom are on low wages.

“Business recognises that the certainty of a majority Conservative government allows them to invest with confidence,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“That is good news in particular for jobs and of course I will be working with business to make sure that we pass on businesses’ new confidence to wo​rkers in higher wages.”

Michael Gove in the first Cabinet meeting since Boris Johnson's win (PA)

He said that workers’ rights and environmental standards would be “protected and enhanced” but the decision to remove commitments in these areas from the Withdrawal Agreement Bill will raise fears that they could be watered down.

Official figures today showed that UK unemployment dropped to its lowest level in 44 years in the three months to October, as the number of jobless women hit a record low, and average pay continued to outstrip inflation.

Boris Johnson told Cabinet: “The economy continues to be robust but we will now take steps to strengthen it.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first cabinet meeting (AP)

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits fell by 13,000 to 1.28 million for the quarter.

Average total pay increased by 3.2 per cent in the quarter, down from 3.6 per cent the previous month.

The slowdown was driven by a growth rate of just 2.4 per cent in October, as it reported the biggest monthly slump in bonus payments for more than five years.

Meanwhile, the number in work increased by 24,000 to 32.8 million for the quarter, while the proportion of people in employment stayed flat at 76.2 per cent.

Despite the increase, more people were also deemed economically inactive during the period, with the level increasing by 19,000 to 8.61 million for the quarter. Job vacancies slid by 20,000 to 794,000 as the rate of decline continued to accelerate from the previous period.

Vacancies have now declined for 10 consecutive months and have fallen below 800,000 for the first time in more than two years.

Read more

You ain't seen nothing yet, Johnson tells MPs in first Cabinet meeting