The government’s changes to the national minimum wage came into effect today. Earnings for those people over 21 have increased by eleven pence to £6.19 an hour. However, those earning minimum wage under the age of 21 have had the rate frozen, with wages for 18 to 20 year olds remaining static at £4.98 an hour and 16 to 17 year olds at £3.68 an hour. There is better news for those people on apprenticeships, with the rate rising 5 pence to £2.65 an hour.

The move follows the government’s announcement in March that the minimum wage would rise by eleven pence. The 1.8% increase is slightly below the rate of inflation, something that has provoked union leaders to attack the policy as leaving the lowest paid workers struggling in the current economic climate.

Speaking about the changes, the TUC commented: “While we are pleased that government has rejected the siren calls of some employers to freeze the minimum wage for adult workers and apprentices, these increases are still far below inflation and will leave the lowest paid facing a real terms cut.”

Introduced in 1999, the minimum wage was originally pegged at £3.60 an hour for adults amidst fears that forcing British business to pay a base level of salary would harm competitiveness. This latest increase is a result of recommendations supplied by the Low Pay Commission and is part of series of changes that also include VAT being levied on such items as hot takeaway food, sports drinks and self-storage units.

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