By Daniel Hunter
Commenting on the new national minimum wage rates that come into force today (Tuesday), TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said:
"Years of below-inflation rises mean that the UK's lowest-paid workers are now facing an historic living standards crisis.
"As the recovery takes hold we will need to see far bigger increases to the minimum wage to ensure that ordinary people and not just the super rich benefit from economic growth. This will need more than any one off pre-election boost - we will need sustained stronger rises if the real value of the minimum wage is to be restored.
"In addition, ministers must honour their promise to crack down on minimum wage cheats. Those who break the law must be prosecuted, publicly named and shamed and handed far heftier fines than at present.
'Many abuses are still going unpunished, with interns and apprentices particularly at risk of being underpaid."
Research published by the TUC in September showed that if the minimum wage went up by a modest four per cent to £6.56 an hour it would free up a quarter of a billion pounds of public spending. The TUC says this shows that tackling low pay is not just good for pay packets but good for the public finances too.
The analysis also showed that if minimum wage increased to £6.88 - half way between its current level and the Living Wage - it would return £800 million to the public finances. Full coverage of the Living Wage could save the Treasury £3bn a year, says the TUC.
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