Pay for workers aged between 18 and 20 frozen at £4.98 an hour, which TUC calls a particular blow to younger people
The minimum wage for UK workers aged 21 and above has risen by 11p to £6.19 an hour, but there is no change for younger employees.
Those aged between 18 and 20 will continue to take home £4.98 an hour, and 16- and 17-year-olds will continue to earn £3.68 a year. The rate for apprentices is increasing by 5p to just £2.65 an hour.
The margin between the annual amount earned by a 16-year-old and a 21-year-old doing the same job has increased by £228.80 to £5,221.
The freeze for younger employees was recommended by the Low Pay Commission, which says in its report its aim is “to ensure that minimum wage rates do not provide an incentive for young people to leave education or training while preventing exploitation for those who are in work or completing an apprenticeship.”
The TUC said that with RPI inflation running at 2.9%, the 1.8% rise in the statutory hourly rate will lead to a “squeeze” on the living standards of almost a million mainly women workers.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “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.
“These new rates are a particular blow to younger people who will face the biggest hit on their living standards. There is no evidence that the minimum wage has had an adverse impact on young people’s employment so it is hard to see the logic behind their pay freeze.”
He added: “Today’s rate increases do not do enough to help hard-pressed families. We need a bolder increase next year otherwise the real incomes of minimum wage workers will continue to fall, along with consumer demand.”