U.K. Raises Living Wage for Workers After ‘Difficult’ Year

The U.K. raised the national living wage for workers, a boost that Chancellor Rishi Sunak said would help employees as the economy ramps up again.

The national living wage, which is the minimum that a company must pay workers 23 years of age and older, rose 2.2% to 8.91 pounds ($12.30) an hour, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said in a statement. It was previously only available to employees over the age of 25.

We’re providing a well-earned pay rise to two million people,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in the statement, which amounts to an extra 345 pounds annually for an employee working full-time. The increase “will be a welcome boost to families right across the U.K.,” he said.

The higher wage comes as Britain’s economy continues to bounce back with coronavirus restrictions beginning to ease. Non-essential retail is due to open from April 12, and the government is aiming to remove all legal limits on social contact from June 21.

The pay increase was recommended by the Low Pay Commission, an independent body, following consultation. The U.K. government aims to have the national living wage equal two-thirds of median earnings by 2024.

“We know that the past year has been very difficult for businesses and families,” Sunak said. “This pay rise will help support employees as we steadily reopen the economy.”

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