Minimum wage to rise to £4.50 an hour

The
national minimum wage (NMW) is to increase by 7 per cent.

From
October, the NMW for adults will increase by 40p from £4.10 to £4.50 an hour,
with the NMW for under-18s to increase by 30p to £3.80.

The
Government has also provisionally accept a recommendation by the Low Pay
Commission to increase the NMW by a further 35p to £4.85 in October 2004.

The
commission believes that up to 2.5m workers will benefit from the increase.

Patricia
Hewitt, trade and industry secretary, said: "These increases are well
above the rise in average earnings and will benefit more people than ever
across the UK.

"We
are committed to eradicating poverty pay for all, without jeopardising job
prospects. We are confident this increase will not have a detrimental effect on
either employment or the wider economy.

"The
Government is pleased to accept the recommended rate increases for 2003 and to
also provisionally accept the increases for 2004, subject to consideration of
further advice from the commission early next year."

By Paul Nelson

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