Ruth Mitchell

National minimum wage up in October

The national minimum wage is to increase by 21 pence an hour to £5.73 from October, Gordon Brown has announced. The Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons yesterday that the statutory rate will have risen by 60% since it was first introduced in 1999.

The hourly rate for 18 to 21-year-olds will increase from £4.60 to £4.77, while the statutory wage for 16 and 17-year-olds will go up from £3.40 to £3.53. Two-thirds of those who will benefit from the increase are women.

The Government also announced new penalties against employers who underpay workers by increasing spending on enforcing the minimum wage.

Business Secretary John Hutton said: “The national minimum wage remains one of the most important rights introduced by the Government in the last decade. “Before it was introduced, some workers could expect to be paid as little as 35p an hour. Our legislation has ensured that can no longer happen. “I am proud of the minimum wage. It makes a real difference to the lives of many of our lowest-paid workers and protects them from exploitation. It also creates a level playing field for business and boosts the economy.”

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