Increase of 1.8% on minimum rate ‘condemns millions to life on the breadline’ say critics and does not even match inflation

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Union leaders have condemned the decision to increase the national minimum wage by just 1.8% as ‘condemning millions to life on the breadline’.

From 1st October, the adult rate is set to increase from £6.08 to £6.19 an hour, the ‘Youth Development Rate’ remains unchanged at £4.98 as does the rate for 16-17 year olds: £3.68 an hour.

The government has increased the Apprentice Rate from £2.60 to £2.65 an hour – a rise of 1.9%.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “While the Chancellor looks set to cut income tax for the very richest, those at the bottom of the pay pile do not have enough to live on.

“An extra 11p an hour is simply not enough. Millions of workers need a living wage* of £8 an hour to cope with rising prices and keep them out of poverty.

“And what message are we sending to our young people when the rates for those under 21 are frozen?

“They deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and should not be left vulnerable to exploitation. Of course it is taxpayers who lose out too, as they will have to pick up the in-work benefits bill because of Scrooge employers.”

Unite described the 11p rise as ‘a pittance, at a time when household bills are going through the roof’.

General secretary, Len McCluskey said: ‘Ministers are living in a parallel universe. On one hand, they are preparing to cut the 50p income tax rate for the wealthiest, yet can only manage 11p an hour for those at the bottom of the wage scales, such as carers and cleaners.

“The fact that young people are not getting an increase is a further insult to a lost generation who have had hope and opportunity grabbed away from them.

“The government should have the political will and courage to intervene and raise the rate to a much more generous level.

The minimum wage was introduced in 1999 at £3.60 an hour for adults. The level is recommended each year by the Low Pay Commission.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The LPC should have been bolder in its recommendations.

“Even in the current economic climate there was room for an increase in the minimum wage that at the very least kept pace with inflation and earnings.

“It is wrong to deny young people an increase this year, as there is no evidence that the minimum wage has had an adverse impact on jobs.

“The reason why firms have not been hiring enough new workers is because they lack confidence in this government’s ability to set the UK on course for a sound economic recovery. There is now a real danger that young people will view minimum wage work as exploitative.

“Many of the businesses that are calling for the minimum wage to be frozen are also complaining about the lack of consumer spending.

“Boosting demand is vital – but this will not be achieved by squeezing the low paid even further.

“Low-paid workers, like hairdressers, shop workers and care assistants, tend to spend 100 per cent of any salary increase in their local economy, so a well-judged rise in the minimum wage would have a beneficial effect across the UK.”


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