National Minimum Wage

The announcement that the national minimum wage is to increase by 2.5 percent has been met with criticism from many people in the business community.

The current adult hourly rate is £5.93 per hour and will rise to £6.08 in October.

As most large companies pay above the national minimum wage, it will be an increase that affects smaller firms in particular.

The director of the British Retail Consortium (BCC) said: “At a time when the priority should be getting more people into work, any increase in staff costs is an extra hurdle. This rise in the national minimum wage is at the very top end of what retailers could be expected to live with.

“Employers have just been hit by an increase in national insurance. Business rates have soared and retailers are still absorbing much of the increase in VAT. This increase in the minimum wage is yet another challenge to retailers when trading is already difficult on the high street.

“In the current climate it is the private sector which is driving the economic growth that will provide the jobs and tax revenues of the future. The minimum wage must reflect the economic realities businesses are dealing with. This announcement is out of step with reality.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable defended the measure, saying that the increase was “appropriate, reflecting the current economic uncertainty while at the same time protecting the UK’s lowest paid workers.”

Ricky Steedman