Workers under 25 are ‘not productive’ enough to deserve the new living wage, Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock has said. The living wage rise to £9 for over 25s by 2020 is one of the key planks of Chancellor George Osborne’s economic strategy.

Hancock said that younger workers were ‘not as productive’ as older workers, at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

“Anybody who has employed people knows that younger people, especially in their first jobs, are not as productive, on average,” Hancock said.

“There are some people who are very productive under the age of 25,” Hancock added. “But you have to set policy for the average. It was an active choice not to cover the under 25s.”

The minimum wage for workers under 25 will remain at £6.70. The £5.30 rate for under 21s will also remain the same, as will the £3.87 rate for under 18s.