Women benefit most as minimum wage breaks £6 an hour

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Women will gain the most as the minimum wage goes above the £6-an-hour threshold for the first time this Saturday, but overall nearly 900,000 workers will see a pay rise, according to the TUC.

It said estimates suggested that the 2.5 per cent increase in the adult minimum wage would add an extra £230m for public finance as tax and national insurance rates increase and the benefits bill falls.

The adult rate goes up by 15p to £6.08, the rate for 18- to 20-year-olds increases by 6p to £4.98 and the rate moves up by 4p to £3.68 for 16- and 17-year-olds. The apprentice rate sees an increase of 10p to £2.60.

The TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said: " The minimum wage has already helped hundreds of thousands of families without causing significant job losses and its success has shown that sensible labour market regulation is good for business."

But he added: "Cuts in public services and benefits are hitting the working poor the hardest and this increase is not enough to protect them from falling living standards."

His comments come just over a week after the public service union, Unison, struck a similar note by asking for the Low Pay Commission, who provide a report each year to the government containing recommendations and advice over the minimum wage, to push for a "substantial' increase" in October 2012.

Dave Prentis, Unison's General Secretary, said: "As inflation increases and the Government's cuts run deep, low paid workers are being driven into poverty. A small rise would be outstripped by the rising cost of essentials like food, fuel and transport."