The National Minimum Wage today rises by 3% to £6.50 per hour, in the first real terms cash increase since 2008.

The latest rise follows the recommendations from the Low Pay Commission in March this year and the call for faster rate rises by business secretary Vince Cable.

The rate for 18 to 20-year-olds increases by 10p to £5.13 per hour, 16 to 17-year-olds get a 7p rise to £3.79 per hour, and apprentices’ minimum wage goes up 5p to £2.73 per hour.

“The National Minimum Wage provides a vital safety net for the lowest paid, ensuring they get a fair wage whilst not costing jobs,” Cable said.

“This year’s rise will mean that they will enjoy the biggest cash increase in their take home pay since the banking crisis, benefiting over one million people in total.

“I believe it is vital that the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations - not political considerations - should set national minimum wage rates. As signs of a stronger economy start to emerge, we need to do more to make sure that the benefits of growth are shared fairly across the board. The Low Pay Commission will continue to advise government on future wage rises and ensure the minimum wage keeps pace with inflation.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband has proposed increasing the minimum wage to £8 per hour by 2020.