The Government was happy to start the month with an above-inflation rise in the National Living Wage (NLW) and minimum wage rates highlighting that a full-time minimum wage worker is over £2000 better off since the introduction of the NLW in April 2016.
Business Minister Andrew Griffiths urged workers to check their pay, talk to their bosses and report underpayment to Acas or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
However, while agreeing that it is important to help low-paid workers deal with the consequences of inflation, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) warned that this has to be done without pricing people out of jobs.
It recommended a cautious approach to any future rises in the NLW to reflect the costs and pressures faced by employers and uncertainty in the economy.
Head of Business Environment and Skills Policy, Jane Gratton, said: "Firms struggle to absorb above-inflation wage increases when they are already facing mounting costs of employment and business rates. Sooner or later, they’ll reach a tipping point where something has to give."
This steady-as she-goes approach was the exact opposite of the response from the TUC, with General Secretary Frances O’Grady reminding the Government of the need to get the NLW to £10 an hour as soon as possible.
"At the moment," she pointed out, "it’s not even on track to reach £9 an hour by 2020 – the amount promised by George Osborne."
As from 1 April 2018, workers aged 25 and above have seen the NLW increase from £7.50 to £7.83; those in the 21 to 24 age range will be paid £7.38 an hour instead of £7.05; and the rise for 18 to 20 year-olds is to £5.90 from £5.60.
Meanwhile 16 and 17 year-olds go up 15p an hour to £4.20 and the Apprentice rate is now 20p higher at £3.70.