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Wage hike prompts calls for watchdog

CAMPAIGNERS have renewed calls for a commission to enforce workers' rights after the Government announced it was increasing the national minimum wage by 19p an hour to £6.50.

The change will give more than one million employees a pay rise when it takes effect in October. The rate for 18 to 20-year-olds will go up by 10p to £5.13 an hour - a 2% increase - while for 16 and 17-year-olds the statutory rate will rise by 7p to £3.79, also 2%.

Margaret Lynch, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, welcomed the move but called on ministers to create a Fair Employment Commission to root out rogue employers.

She said: "CAB advisers see so many people now who are in poverty, or very near it. These people need better protection and a fair deal."

The Government said it had accepted recommendations from the Low Pay Commission, including plans for bigger increases in future than in recent years. The British Chambers of Commerce said the increase was a "reasonable compromise" while the Federation of Small Businesses said the rise was "slightly" higher than it had hoped.

Meanwhile, Audit Scotland said it was "difficult to measure" the long-term contribution of modern apprenticeships and called for its benefits to be assessed.

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