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TUC believes a 20p increase on the National Minimum Wage is 'sensible and affordable'

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The TUC has called for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to increase by 20p to 6.

The Low Pay Comission, which advises Government on the National Minimum Wage, is currently considering the rates for the period from October 2010 to September 2011. The TUC will recommend that this 3.5% rise in the adult NMW is both ‘sensible and affordable'.

The TUC believes an increase in the minimum wage is required to ensure that the earnings of low paid workers do not fall behind the rest of the country. Average earnings are expected to increase and the TUC argues too small a rise in the NMW would leave working families in poverty.

The 20p increase would benefit around one million vulnerable workers and help address the gender pay gap, as two thirds of those benefitting will be female. Women workers, workers from ethnic minority backgrounds, those with disabilities and younger and older workers are among the groups who will benefit most;

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "It is predictable that some employer groups are saying that any increase in the minimum wage will threaten jobs and that £6 is too much.

"But raising the minimum wage has already helped thousands of families without causing significant job losses. The effect of a further reasonable increase on employer pay bills will be modest, and companies should find them easy to absorb.

"Economic growth is predicted to return during the period that the Low Pay Commission is considering. Earnings should grow and unemployment should fall. An increase in the minimum wage is required to ensure that working families are not left in unnecessary poverty.

"The recession was caused by highly paid people damaging the nation's financial system. It would not be fair to make the low paid suffer a freeze in wages while City bankers still get bonuses and when there is no economic necessity to do so."