Good news and bad news in one: the minimum wage will rise by 3.8% from £5.52 to £5.73 an hour.
For 18 to 21-year-olds the rate will be £4.77, up from £4.60, while 16 to 17-year-olds will get £3.53, up from £3.40.
So, the good news is, it’s going up.
The band news is, it’s not high enough to be a living wage.
Tony Woodley, joint leader of Unite, wanted to see the rate increase to more than £6.
“This rise is well below current RPI inflation and projected pay increases, which both stand at 4.1%,” he said.
“At a time when inequality is rising up the political agenda and business leaders are awarding themselves record pay rises, the lowest-paid workers continue to slip back. This cannot continue.”
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “There is no doubt that this increase will benefit thousands of working people.
“However, it falls short of its aim to protect the poor from the constant price rises in essentials like fuel, food and housing.
“A much more realistic figure would be a minimum wage of £6.75 an hour, which would lift many more families out of poverty and off means-tested benefits.”
The GMB’s General Secretary Paul Kenny was quick to issue this comment:
“In view of the rising prices of food, energy, water, transport and travel this increase is not enough to meet the additional bills much less help meet the higher tax bills that will result from the abolition of the lower tax rate of 10% in April 2008 for those on the minimum wage. The living standards of the lowest paid will fall behind again. GMB would have wanted to see at least another 10 pence per hour so that the living standards of the lowest paid in the UK could at least stand still.
GMB policy is that the National Minimum Wage should be moved up to £7 per hour to become a living wage.”
The Morning Star‘s editorial repeats Kenny’s point that
Mr Brown’s Robin-Hood-in-reverse move to abolish the 10 per cent lower income tax rate for the lowest paid will all but wipe out the measly minimum wage increase.