David Cameron will urge business leaders to give their workers a pay rise, during a speech to the British Chambers of Commerce later.Speaking at its annual conference, he will say economic conditions have “not been this good for a long time” and will call on firms to increase wages.
Deputy PM Nick Clegg and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls will also speak.
It comes as the Dailyreleased said a referendum on EU membership should be held in 2016 to minimise risk and uncertainty.
In his speech, Mr Cameron will urge businesses to take advantage of the strongest economic growth in seven years to increase wages.
‘People’s pay packets’
“Economic success can’t just be shown in the GDP figures or on the balance sheets of British businesses but in people’s pay packets and bank accounts and lifestyles,” he will say.
“The most recent figures show that wages are already growing faster than inflation and as the economy continues to grow it’s important this continues and that everyone benefits.
“Put simply – it’s time Britain had a pay rise.”
He will say he is “confident that more businesses will pass on that good economic news to their workers in rising pay cheques and higher earnings”.
However, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said Mr Cameron’s call is “no more than pre-election mood music”.
“There are nurses, midwives and public sector midwives across the board who will find it a bit rich that the government is calling for a pay rise for everybody but them,” she said.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey called on the government to “immediately” boost the minimum wage by at least £1.50 an hour.
The prime minister’s speech comes as the Dailyreleased said announcing a 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union would reduce economic “uncertainty”.
The Conservatives have said they will hold an “in-out” vote by 2017 after negotiating a “better deal” in Europe.
But Labour has said an early referendum will add to the “risks for business”.
“We need to bring the referendum date forward because two-and-a half-years of uncertainty isn’t good for growth and investment,” he said.
“It should be no more than 12 months after the general election”.
In his speech later, Mr Longworth will warn about the debate over Europe “being hijacked by political ideology”.
He will argue the best outcome for British business and the UK’s future economic growth is for the UK to remain within a reformed EU.
The focus of future renegotiations, he will claim, should not be on repatriating powers but preventing the UK from being “drawn closer” to the eurozone and “being in a club” where all the decisions are taken by countries using the single currency.
Last month David Cameron said he would be delighted if negotiations with the EU’s 27 other countries could be concluded as early as possible.
In response to Mr Longworth’s comments, a Conservative source said: “We’ve said we’d hold a referendum by 2017 but if it is possible to hold it earlier that would be fine.”
Meanwhile, in his speech to the conference, Mr Balls will say the threat of the UK leaving the EU is “the biggest risk to our economy in the next decade”.
“Every comment by senior Cabinet members saying they would be happy or relaxed to see us walk out and every hint that a referendum could happen as early as next year – before any meaningful reform could be achieved – only adds to the uncertainty and risk for British business,” he will say.
Labour has said it will only sanction a referendum if further powers are handed from the UK to Brussels requiring a fundamental change to existing treaties.
A Liberal Democrat source said that it was not opposed to a referendum in principle but said it should only happen if significant powers were transferred and that its commitment to remaining in the EU “is what most businesses want and what the BCC wants”.
‘Deliver rising prosperity’
UKIP has suggested talk of a 2016 referendum is a “ruse” by the Conservatives and by Mr Cameron, who it says previously “begged for time” for the renegotiation.
The Dailyreleased takes a different view on the issue than the CBI – the UK’s other leading business organisation – which has argued that a referendum will cause widespread uncertainty.
The TUC has long campaigned for a pay rise for British workers while Mr Balls will say the UK must “deliver rising prosperity for everyone who works hard and plays by the rules”.
Liberal Democrat leader, Mr Clegg will use his speech to set a target of helping a million more women into work work by 2020, saying the Lib Dems will require firms with more than 250 staff to publish the average pay of their male and female workers.
SNP deputy first minister John Swinney is among other speakers at the event.