The National Living Wage, which is the minimum wage for those over 21 years old, has increased by more than £1 per hour.

From April 1, the minimum wage rose to £11.44, from £10.42. The new rate now applies to those over 21, rather than those over 23.

The news follows measures announced in the Autumn 2023 budget. The government said the rise represents an increase of around £1,800 to the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the National Living Wage, and is expected to benefit some 2.7 million workers.

However, some small business owners have raised concerns over the increases.

The Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) said following the Autumn budget that the latest increase “will be damaging to many small stores”.

The Fed’s national president Muntazir Dipoti warned that the extra cost could be the tipping point for stores that are already struggling to stay in business in the current economic climate.

He said: “As responsible employers, we want to pay our staff a fair wage for a fair day’s work. However, it should be borne in mind that many small shops are also struggling to cope with soaring costs.

“Unfortunately, there are hours in the day when some retailers do not generate an income of £11.44.”

Elsewhere, the British Beer and Pub Association flagged strong Easter trading for the sector, but warned pubs and breweries up and down the country will now “feel the pinch of April’s hiked business rates and above-inflation uptick in the National Living Wage”.

According to the BBPA’s estimations, pubs served an extra 11 million pints between Thursday and Monday. 

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin, said: “The Easter trading figures are even better than expected and provide a great springboard into the Spring and Summer months ahead. These come at a time when the beer and pub sector are having to absorb a raft of new cost increases and while every single pub and brewer across the country is undoubtedly committed to paying their staff a fair wage, the almost half a billion-pound combined cost increases to the National Living Wage bill and business rates risks stunting the green shoots of growth emerging in the beer and pub sector.

“There is, however, a clear solution in this situation, the government must step up and invest.”