The minimum hourly wage for people over the age of 23 will increase by 6.6% to 9.50 ($ 13), the government said ahead of announcing its budget on Wednesday.
Lower income households also spend a higher percentage of their income on energy bills and they may be put under further pressure with rising energy prices.
The UK regulator for the gas and electricity sector announced in August that the price limit that protects up to 15 million households from high bills will rise by up to 13% this month as natural gas prices set new records. Another border increase is expected in April.
Higher wages face rising inflation
Nye Cominetti, a senior economist at the Resolution Foundation’s economic policy institute, said raising the minimum wage “would be very welcome”, especially since “low-income earners have been hardest hit” by the coronavirus pandemic.
The government has recently raised the minimum wage by more than inflation, Cominetti said. But he warned that the April increase “would actually be a real increase smaller than the last few years, given that inflation is likely to be above 4% by April 2022”.
Higher wages will also not fully offset government cuts for a benefit claimed by lower-income individuals called Universal Credit. Benefit increased during the pandemic, but is now being reduced by 20 ($ 27.50) per week.
About 4.4 million households receive universal credit, while only 2 million workers earn the National Living Wage.
Tom Waters, senior research economist at the research organization Institute for Fiscal Studies, said full-time workers with the minimum wage would see their income increase by over 1,000 ($ 1,378) a year. But those with Universal Loans will only have disposable income increase by a quarter of $ 250 ($ 344.50) “because their taxes go up and their benefits go down as their profits go up,” he said.
By the time spring comes, growth may seem much less important.
“Rising inflation will … dilute the real value of this minimum wage increase and of course while prices are rising now, the minimum wage increase will not start until April,” Waters said.
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