Union chiefs call for minimum wage increase

By Charles Maggs

Small increases in the minimum wage have led to the living standards of the country's poorest people getting worse, according to the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Below-inflation increases in recent Budgets have meant that the incomes of those earning the least have effectively gone down.

TUC general secretary designate Frances O'Grady emphasised the importance of the minimum wage to the lowest paid.

"With many hard-pressed families facing cuts to their benefits and tax credits, the minimum wage is becoming even more of a vital lifeline," she said.

"At the very least it needs to keep pace with inflation.

"Last month's growth forecasts show there will be more capacity to increase the minimum wage rates in 2013 and the Low Pay Commission must be bolder with the rates it puts to ministers."

Consumer price index inflation has gone down in recent months, in September it was 2.2%, but this is still higher than the 1.8% increase due in the minimum wage.

Earlier this week Ed Miliband called for tougher measures to see the 'living wage' more widely paid, but argued that it could have benefits beyond just those receiving more pay.

"There are already scores of British businesses who are saying that the living wage makes sense from them because it improves staff retention and reduces absence rates," he said.

The current living wage is £8.55 in London and £7.45 in the rest of the country, while the minimum wage for people over 21 is £6.19.