30/09/2005

Minimum wage rises to £5.05 from Saturday

The increase in the National Minimum Wage will guarantee a small pay rise to more than 1.3 million workers from Saturday 1st October.

The adult rate will increase from £4.85 to £5.05 per hour, while the youth rate, paid to 18-21 year-olds, will go up from £4.10 per hour to £4.25.

The rate for 16 and 17 year old workers, introduced last year, will remain at £3.00 an hour, to enable it to be fully reviewed by the Low Pay Commission in its annual report to the government in February 2006.

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alan Johnson said: "Since the National Minimum Wage came into force in 1999, over a million low paid workers have benefited each year.

"This means we have protected some of our most vulnerable members of society from exploitative employers. Tomorrow's increase will make a real difference to the lives of the lowest paid members of our workforce."

When the National Minimum Wage was launched in 1999 the main rate was £3.60 per hour and the 18-21 year-old rate was £3.00 per hour. Since then an estimated one million workers per year have benefited from the National Minimum Wage.

Welcoming the increase, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Tomorrow's increase will see well over a million low-paid workers with more cash in their pockets, many of them women working part time. An extra 20 pence an hour is going to make a real difference, with many hard-up families better off as a result.

"But as ever, with each minimum wage increase comes the predictable wave of protest from business saying that it cannot afford another rise. Every year miserly bosses say any wage boost will be at the expense of jobs, but every year their predictions of doom and gloom fail to materialise.

"When the Low Pay Commission reviews the minimum wage later in the year, I urge it not to listen too closely to the bleatings of UK business leaders. A further increase next year and payment of the adult rate to 18 year olds is easily affordable, and would have no adverse effect upon either the economy or on jobs."

The national helpline number for people who think they are not being paid the minimum wage is 0845 6000 678.

(SP/KMcA)

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