A union has welcomed an increase in the national minimum wage but said the pay rise is still below inflation

The national minimum wage for adults will go up 12p to 6.31 an hour in October, the Government says. The rate for 18 to 20 year-olds has risen 5p to 5.03 per hour and by 4p to 3.72 per hour for workers aged 16 and 17.

Ministers also announced a 3p increase to 2.68 an hour for apprentices, rejecting the Low Pay Commission's recommendation to freeze the rate.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union said: "This is a vital pay rise. However the rise is well below inflation so the living standards of the people at the bottom end of the scale will fall.

"These workers will have less to spend in the economy. They can't spend what they don't have. The economy will take longer to recover and in the meantime everything else keeps going up in price."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "We are accepting [the Low Pay Commission's] recommendations for the adult and youth rate increases, which I am confident strikes this balance. However, there is worrying evidence that a significant number of employers are not paying apprentices the relevant minimum wage rate.

"Apprenticeships are at the heart of our goal to support a stronger economy, and so it is important to continue to make them attractive to young people. Therefore, I am not taking forward the LPC's recommendation to freeze the apprenticeship rate due to non-compliance, but instead am raising it in line with the youth rates. We are working on a series of tough new measures to ensure we tackle non-compliance issues across the board."

Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, welcomed the work of the Low Pay Commission, saying its task was 'difficult'. Mr Moore added: "It is very important to have a statutory floor and ensure nobody sinks below that level.

"But we think it's also important to have something more ambitious than a minimum - which is where the Living Wage comes in."

Copyright Press Association 2013