Under-18s to get minimum wage

Workers under the age of 18 will receive the national minimum wage for the first time, while the rate for adults is expected to rise to more than £5 an hour next year.

Workers under the age of 18 will receive the national minimum wage for the first time, while the rate for adults is expected to rise to more than £5 an hour next year.

Ministers will announce next week that 16- and 17-year-olds will qualify for a minimum wage of about £3 an hour, a move that will benefit tens of thousands of young people. The minimum pay for 18- to 21-year-olds, currently £3.80 an hour, is expected to rise to £4.10 and the adult rate from £4.50 to £4.85 an hour.

The Government will portray the rises as an example of its "social justice" agenda and hopes it will appeal to the Labour Party and trade unions, who have long campaigned for a minimum wage of £5 an hour. But the move has caused a squabble among ministers over who should get the credit by making the announcement.

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had intended to make the minimum wage an important plank of his Budget next Wednesday. But Tony Blair jumped the gun during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. Mr Blair trailed the rise in the adult rate to £4.85 an hour in October and hinted strongly that young workers would benefit for the first time. He said: "I hope next week we will be able to say more about the national minimum wage and its impact on young people, which will no doubt find support at least on this side of the House."

Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, intends to make the formal announcement before the Budget, probably on Monday, because she believes the issue comes under her department's remit. About 1.6 million people will be helped by the rise in the rate for workers aged 22 and above. The 7 per cent increase is well above inflation, but the Low Pay Commission, which advises on the rate, has backed the move. Another increase is due to be announced in a year, in the run-up to a general election, which is expected to take the figure to about £5.20.

The commission has also given its approval for the introduction of a new lower rate for young workers. The Government asked it to investigate the proposal after unions complained that young people were being exploited. Ministers were anxious to pitch the level of the wage at a cautious rate so it did not deter teenagers from continuing their education.

Research by the commission found the average hourly rate payable to 16- and 17- year-olds was about 80 per cent of the £3.50 youth minimum rate. There was evidence that some employers in low-paid industries, such as hairdressing, were using apprenticeships, which are not covered by the minimum wage, to pay significantly less than the legal minimum. The commission said: "Some employers are using the exemptions available in relation to modern apprenticeships to offer very low rates of pay. This may lead to these opportunities been less valued by young people."

Mr Brown, who is keen to expand the number of apprenticeships, may seek to close this loophole in his Budget.

Unions have accused firms of pitching vacancies at 16- and 17-year-olds to cut costs. One survey cited a trainee painter and decorator in Kent who was paid £1.25 an hour, a car valet in Cheshire offered the same amount and an office junior in Plymouth paid £1.50 an hour.

In the Commons, the Labour MP Liz Blackman said many young people in her Erewash constituency in Derbyshire "have no earnings potential and are open to exploitation by some unscrupulous bosses who pay them a pitiful wage for often quite responsible jobs".

Mr Blair criticised Michael Howard, the Tory leader, who claimed while he was Employment Secretary that a national minimum wage could cost two million jobs. "Some people said unemployment would go up. Actually, we have one and three quarter million more jobs in the British economy," Mr Blair said.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Support Technician (2nd Line / Server Support) - Bedford

£24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...


£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Science Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a qualified science t...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments