Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has made a bid to woo businesses and workers with the party’s 2015 general election manifesto.
Among the key pledges outlined in the 56-page document published yesterday (April 20), the First Minister of Scotland said an SNP government would increase the minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020 and support efforts to extend the living wage of £7.85 (£9.15 in London) an hour across the UK. The minimum wage is currently set to rise to £6.70 an hour from October.
If the party gets into power after the election on May 7, it would also seek to reduce employers’ national insurance contributions and increase employment allowance from £2,000 per business per year to £6,000.
Sturgeon also outlined plans to tackle “in-work poverty” by backing a rise in the personal tax allowance as well as the work allowance before benefits are cut, and to implement “tough action” to end exploitative zero hours contracts.
Director general of the CBI John Cridland responded to the publication. He said while the manifesto included some policies to boost growth, others such as interventions on pay could restrict “growth creation and ultimately cost jobs.”
He also criticised Sturgeon’s plans to increase the minimum wage, adding that “the independent Low Pay Commission, not politicians, should be in the lead to ensure any increases are affordable.”
“To make sure growth benefits everyone, we need to boost productivity by fostering business investment and making sure our workforce gets the skills they need to compete in a globalised world.”
Sturgeon has publically called for a coalition with the Labour party, which published its business manifesto earlier this month. However, Labour leader Ed Miliband has rejected the idea of a formal coalition with the SNP.