Ministers approve minimum wage rise
The national minimum wage is to increase by 19p an hour to £6.50 later this year, giving more than a million workers a pay rise.
The rate for 18 to 20-year-olds will go up by 10p to £5.13 an hour - a 2% increase - while for 16 and 17-year-olds the statutory rate will rise by 7p to £3.79, also 2%.
The minimum wage for apprentices will go up by 5p to £2.73 an hour, with all the new rates coming into force in October.
The Government said it had accepted recommendations from the low Pay Commission, including plans for bigger increases in future than in recent years.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The recommendations I have accepted today mean that low-paid workers will enjoy the biggest cash increase in their take home pay since 2008. This will benefit over one million workers on national minimum wage and marks the start of a welcome new phase in minimum wage policy.
"The independent Low Pay Commission plays a crucial role in advising the Government about the minimum wage. This is why I asked them to look at how we could restore the real value of the national minimum wage as the economy recovers.
"The LPC's new forward guidance gives us a much better understanding of how an economic recovery can be translated into faster and significant increases in the national minimum wage for low paid workers, without costing jobs.
"The experts will continue to advise government on future wage rises to help the low paid, and in the meantime I urge businesses to consider how all their staff - not just those on the minimum wage - can enjoy the benefits of recovery."
Unison union general secretary Dave Prentis said: "Of course the rise will be welcomed, but at £6.50 an hour the new minimum wage will still be more than £1 less than the Living Wage needed to keep people out of poverty.
"Across the country people are struggling to make ends meet. The sooner we move to a Living Wage the better. The real winners today will again be payday loan sharks who prey on working people, unable to bridge the financial gap between what they earn and what their families need to survive.
"Even the Chancellor has stated support for a £7-an-hour minimum wage rate. The Government should have had the courage to step up and meet that target."
The Government said the increase was the first real value rise in the minimum wage in six years.
The LPC has predicted that the new rate will increase the number of jobs covered by the national minimum wage by more than a third, to 1.25 million.
A worker on the adult rate, working a 36-hour week, will receive an extra £355 a year from October.