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What is the National Living Wage? What’s the difference between this and the National Minimum Wage? And how do changes to these rates affect you as a student? 🤷


What is the National Minimum Wage?

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum hourly wage every worker is entitled to.

You can be paid any amount above the NMW (we’re sure there would be lots of takers for £100 an hour), but it’s illegal to be paid below this rate. 🚨

The rate depends on your age and is higher the older you are. The age brackets for the NMW and their current rates are:

  • 23 and older: £9.50
  • 21-22: £9.18
  • 18-20: £6.83
  • Under 18 (but above school leaving age): £4.81
  • Apprentice Rate: £4.81

For young people below school leaving age, there is no NMW.


What is the National Living Wage?

People often get confused when speaking about the National Living Wage and think it’s something completely different to the NMW. But it’s actually a lot simpler than that.

The National Living Wage (NLW) is just another name for the National Minimum Wage for those who are 23 or older. So when we’re talking about the NMW for most of the adult working population, we’re talking about the NLW – anybody who is at least 23 must be paid this rate.

There are separate measures for the UK and London Living Wages, which are meant to represent the cost of living in these places, but there are two things to know about these:

  • They aren’t set by the government
  • It’s not illegal to pay somebody below the UK or London Living Wage 🤷


How do National Minimum Wage & National Living Wage changes affect you as a student?

A rise in the NMW means you can earn a lot more alongside your studies – so more money to spend on the things you love, whether that be travel 🌴, food 🥘 or something else. 😍

If you’re under the age of 23, changes to the NLW won’t actually affect you yet (but it’s still good to pay attention to these changes to keep tabs on your future earning potential 💰) and you’ll instead want to keep an eye on the NMW for your age group.

These are the current National Minimum Wage rates and what they were before April 2022:

Age 23 and older (NLW) 21-22 18-20 Under 18 Apprentice Rate
2021/22 (before April 2022) £8.91 £8.36 £6.56 £4.62 £4.30
2022/23 £9.50 £9.18 £6.83 £4.81 £4.81


You might often be embarrassed to ask financial questions in fear of seeming stupid – but by asking, you’ll be setting yourself up for a much better financial future! 💸 Here are 3 other questions you might be too embarrassed to ask.


Further reading:

5 ways to make more money as a student



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