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Swinney unveils living wage of 7.45 an hour

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The Scottish Government is to increase the amount its lowest paid workers receive in line with a rise in the living wage, the Finance Secretary has announced.

John Swinney also urged bosses in the private, public and voluntary sectors to follow the SNP administration's lead and commit to paying all staff at least £7.45 an hour.

The Scottish Government included the living wage in its pay policy last year, ensuring all workers in the Government and its agencies, as well as the NHS in Scotland, receive at least £7.20 an hour.

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After the Scottish Living Wage Campaign and the Living Wage Foundation announced the recommended amount was being increased to £7.45, Mr Swinney pledged that all staff would be paid at least that.

The new rate will apply from April, the start of the next public sector pay round. The move will potentially benefit up to 3,300 workers.

Announcing the pay rise, Mr Swinney said: "The Scottish Government is committed to the Scottish living wage and we fully support the principles of the Living Wage Campaign which encourages all employers to reward their staff fairly.

"That is why the commitment to pay the living wage is part of the Scottish Government's public sector pay policy for the third year running."

It comes after UK Labour leader Ed Miliband put plans for a living wage for millions of people in the public and private sector at the centre of his party's attempt to return to power

Mr Miliband said that the pay rate is a key plank of his "One Nation" vision to share prosperity.

His brother David - who lost out in the race to become Labour leader - also backed the campaign.

Mr Swinney said: "Since 2011 this Government has ensured all staff within our responsibility are paid a living wage and we would encourage all public, private and third-sector organisations to recognise the benefits of this approach and do likewise.

"The living wage is a positive step that all employers can take to help boost consumer confidence, strengthen economic recovery, while helping to provide certainty for individuals and families who are already dealing with pressures on family budgets."

The Scottish Government pay policy "recognises the importance of supporting those on low incomes" with a minimum basic pay increase of £250 for all staff earning under £21,000, Mr Swinney said.

Peter Kelly, chair of the Scottish Living Wage Campaign, praised the Government's stance.

"With the problem of in-work poverty continuing to increase, the Scottish Government's continued support for the living wage must be congratulated," he said.

"Today's announcement will ensure that some of the lowest paid workers in the public sector will receive a wage increase that will provide real help in these difficult times.

"We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure that more employees across Scotland can get the benefit of the living wage."

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