Lowest paid workers across Gloucestershire can expect to command an extra 70p an hour under new Government proposals to boost the minimum wage.
Chancellor George Osborne has called for an inflation-busting boost to the minimum wage, currently set at £6.31 an hour for people over 21.
Mr Osborne has said the increase could be sustained by business as a result of Britain’s economic recovery.
Inflation fell to the Bank of England’s two per cent target for the first time in four years last month.
But Labour has hit back, claiming the economic upturn has not translated into improved living standards for many.
Danae Savvidou, who works at Highfields Garden World in Whitminster, works for minimum wage.
She said: “After I've been here a while my salary is performance based. As far as I'm aware my job is safe. I think the minimum wage does need to be increased, this is an issue that affects young people most as a demographic, and it's so hard to get on your feet in this economy. I’m a graduate, so I believe I will get a better paid job in future. Others either haven't had the opportunity to attend further education or preferred to enter the work force. If the minimum wage was to be increased I think it would give young people and other employees a bigger sense of worth and will be a motivating factor.”
According to the office of national statistics, average weekly earnings, excluding bonus payments, rose by 0.8 per cent in 2013. In cash terms, average weekly earnings excluding bonus payments were £448 in October 2013, before tax, up from £443 a year earlier.
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings low pay estimates for April 2013 show that there were 279,000 jobs with pay less than the national minimum wage, around 1.1 per cent of all UK employees. There were 19,000 jobs held by 16 to 17-year-olds with pay less than £3.68 per hour. For 18 to 20-year-olds, there were 57,000 jobs with pay less than £4.98 per hour, and 203,000 jobs with pay less than £6.19 per hour. The knock-on effect of a pay hike could see small businesses hardest hit, with an increase in overheads.
Steve Millward, owner of Gloucester Sports in Worcester Street, said: “I value my staff so I feel like they deserve more than the minimum wage. Ultimately you get what you pay for. I want to try and stay above the current wage mark to keep the staff that we have. If you want to attract good staff, you have to offer a good wage.”