The national minimum wage is set to increase from £5.35 to £5.52 an hour from October this year.

The wage for 16-17 year-olds will increase from £3.30 to £3.40 an hour, while 18-21 year-olds will see their pay rise from £4.45 to £4.60 an hour.

More than a million workers, two thirds of which are low-paid women, would benefit from the increase, said Alistair Darling, secretary of state for trade and industry.