THE MINIMUM wage for adults will rise by 12p to £6.31 an hour from October, business secretary Vince Cable announced yesterday.
The rate for 18-to-20 year olds will increase by 5p to £5.03 an hour, while the apprentice rate will rise by 3p to £2.68 an hour. All the increases are beneath the rate of inflation.
The move follows speculation that the government could freeze the rate amid fears that a rise could damage job creation.
Cable also promised “tough new measures” to root out businesses that fail to pay the appropriate wage to young apprentices and interns following a recommendation from the independent Low Pay Commission.
Ben Lyons of pressure group Intern Aware welcomed the pledge: “Most unpaid interns do real work, so the government needs to listen to the Commission’s advice and ramp up enforcement of the law.”
“Only seven employers have been prosecuted for non-compliance with the minimum wage since it was introduced in 1999 – this needs to change.”
However, business groups said they were disappointed by the decision to increase the adult minimum wage by 1.9 per cent, more than double the average rate of pay growth.
“While the pressures of inflation are affecting many people, including the lowest-paid, the scale of this rise adds significantly to business costs, most of all by contributing to broader pay inflation,” said Dr Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce.
“It will also make some employers less inclined to hire additional staff.”