LOW paid workers in Hartlepool and East Durham are set to see a boost to their wage packets thanks to an increase in the minimum wage.
The national minimum wage is to increase by 19p an hour to £6.50 later this year.
More than a million workers nationwide are set to benefit from the rise.
Regional union chiefs have welcomed the Government’s announcement but say they will continue to campaign for employers to sign up to the higher Living Wage which is calculated according to the cost of living.
Clare Williams, Unison’s northern regional convenor, said: “We welcome an increase to the National Minimum Wage as we know there is a real cost of living crisis across the country and there is a large percentage of public service workers earning less than the minimum wage.
“Whilst we do welcome the increase to £6.50 per hour, Unison will however continue to campaign for employers to adopt the Living Wage of £7.65 per hour.”
A worker on the adult rate, working a 36-hour week, will receive an extra £355 a year from October.
Those aged 18 to 20, who are on minimum wage, will see their pay go up by two per cent, or 10p an hour to £5.13.
And for 16 and 17-year-olds the statutory rate will rise by 7p to £3.79.
Apprentices will see a 5p hourly rise to £2.73 an hour, with all the new rates coming into force in October.
The Government said it had accepted recommendations from the Low Pay Commission, including plans for bigger increases in future than in recent years.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The recommendations I have accepted mean that low-paid workers will enjoy the biggest cash increase in their take home pay since 2008.”
John Allan, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“While the rise to £6.50 is slightly more than we would have hoped for, it is at least only 1 per cent over inflation.
“Most small firms should be able to afford this.”