THOUSANDS of workers in this area should now have a little extra money in their pockets after the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increased on October 1.
The rate has risen to £5.73 per hour for workers aged 22 and over, £4.77 for 18-21 year olds and £3.53 for those aged 16 and 17.
The Government is also currently preparing a further crackdown on bosses who fail to pay the minimum wage, with tough new penalties set to come into force next April.
An information campaign over the next six months will aim to make sure that every employer is aware of the changes.
Employment Relations Minister, Pat McFadden, said: “Ten years ago, the National Minimum Wage was born, marking the start of a hard-fought campaign to introduce a basic standard of employment rights that every worker could be protected by.
“The minimum wage has made a lasting and significant difference to the low paid, with around a million workers benefiting from the increase each year.
“It's vital that we safeguard this right with effective enforcement, which is why we're bringing in tough new penalties for those who flout the law.
“The vast majority of employers treat their workers fairly and have nothing to fear from these changes. In fact, stronger enforcement will help prevent rogue bosses from undercutting honest competitors.”
The Employment Bill, currently before the Parliament, will introduce an automatic fine of up to £5,000 for businesses found underpaying their workers.
The most serious cases will be tried in a Crown Court, which will have the power to impose unlimited penalties.
The Bill also includes a fairer method for dealing with minimum wage arrears - calculated so that workers do not lose out as a result of underpayment.
Anyone who is concerned they may not be getting the National Minimum Wage can call the NMW helpline on 0845 6000 678 for confidential advice or to register a complaint about underpayment.
Support is offered in more than 100 languages and callers can remain anonymous if they wish.
In the last year alone, HMRC enforcement officers investigated 542 employers in the North West and Merseyside and secured more than £270,000 in arrears for 900 workers.
Since the minimum wage was introduced in April 1999, the Government has returned over £30million unpaid wages to more than 100,000 workers across the UK.