The 2.2% rise in the national minimum wage, due to come into force in October 2010, has been slammed by bakers, who argue that it could hamper economic recovery and put jobs at risk.

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) announced that national minimum wage rates will increase from £5.80 to £5.93 an hour for workers aged 21 and over in October. Hourly pay will increase for workers aged 18-20 from £4.83 to £4.92 and from £3.57 to £3.64 an hour for workers aged 16-17.

National Association of Master Bakers chief executive Gill Brooks-Lonican met with the LPC last year to call for a freeze on the minimum wage rate in light of the tough trading conditions caused by the recession. "Our members have already had to swallow huge fuel and ingredients increases, and cannot put prices up further. This will result in redundancies, which defeats the purpose of the increase," she said.

She also criticised the delay between when the minimum wage rises in October and when benefit thresholds are changed in April 2011. "A lot of our members have staff who work 16 hours a week and claim benefits. The increase will take them over the benefits threshold and staff then want to work fewer hours. They should be raised at the same time."