During that period, there was a pounds 21 increase in average weekly payments - pounds 15 more than the amount needed to keep pace with inflation.
The figures reveal the increasing extent to which taxpayers are forced to subsidise some employers who are maximising profits by minimising wages, according to Ian McCartney, Labour's employment spokesman.
Mr McCartney said the bill had rocketed by 244 per cent in five years and was set to increase to more than pounds 2bn a year. He pointed out that it came on top of the estimated pounds 500m paid out in other benefits, including help with housing and council tax payments as a consequence of low pay. Barrie Clement, Labour EditorReuse content