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Minimum wage - restraint needed next year too

Next year's increase in the National Minimum Wage must be no more than this year's increase says the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Minimum wage - restraint needed next year too

Yesterdays 1.2 per cent increase will take the adult minimum wage from £5.73 to £5.80 per hour. The BRC said that is a sensible figure for these difficult times and a result that BRC evidence played a big part in achieving. The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is currently considering October 2010's increase, which will not be announced until next spring. The BRC supports the principle of the minimum wage, but is campaigning for a rise in the range of zero to one per cent and certainly no higher than today's increase.

Once the economy returns to stability, the BRC is asking the LPC to provide a more predictable relationship with average earnings. This will mean the LPC provides a more long-term outlook for the minimum wage than the current six months, giving businesses more certainty about future costs.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: "Against a background of really tough trading conditions, where retailers need help to maintain and go on creating jobs, this is a sensible increase and one that BRC evidence played a major part in achieving.

"The best protection for wages is preserving jobs to keep people working and earning not handicapping employers with excessive new costs.

"1.2 per cent strikes a common sense balance between helping low-paid workers and enabling retailers to maintain, and where possible, increase job opportunities. But underlying confidence is very fragile. It should not be taken for granted. Next October's increase should be in the range of between zero to one per cent – but no higher than this year's.

"Once economic stability returns, the Low Pay Commission needs to provide a more predictable relationship between the minimum wage and average earnings. This should provide a more long-term outlook, giving businesses more of the certainty they need to make investment decisions that create jobs and growth."

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