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Is the National Minimum Wage damaging your business?

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The Low Pay Commission will visit Kendal next month as part of a national tour to gauge the impact of the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage on businesses.

It has asked to meet Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, and we plan to tell them exactly how businesses in the county are affected.

To that end, we want to hear your views.

Click here to complete a short multiple-choice survey.

The National Minimum Wage was introduced in 1999, and the National Living Wage – which applies to over-25s – followed in 2016.

The rates increase annually on April 1, and the Low Pay Commission advises the Government on the level they are set.

This year the hourly rate for over-25s goes up from £7.50 to £7.83, an increase of 4.4%.  The rate for 21-to-24-year olds rises from £7.05 to £7.38, that for 18-to-20-year olds from £5.60 to £5.90, and that for 16 and 17-year olds from £4.05 to £4.20. The apprentice rate increases from £3.50 to £3.70.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The overwhelming majority of businesses want to treat their staff fairly and have no problem with the concept of ‘a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work’.

For some, increases in the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage might be the final straw.

“But businesses are facing a whole host of higher costs.

“Employers’ minimum pension contribution under auto-enrolment will double to 2% next month, for example, and will increase again in 2019.

“Then we had the business rates revaluation last year, which brought big increases for some. Businesses are also being squeezed by dearer imports because of the weak pound, and subdued consumer spending.

“For some, increases in the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage might be the final straw.

“That’s why I’d urge businesses to complete our survey, so we can spell out to the Low Pay Commission exactly how Cumbrian businesses are affected.”

One reason the Low Pay Commission has chosen to visit it Kendal is that the proportion of workers in South Lakeland paid at the Minimum Wage level, 12.1%, is almost double the national average.

It wants to hear how businesses have responded to rising wage costs from the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage.

Has it led to higher wage bills, for example, and what action have businesses taken in response? Has it affected employment levels, productivity, or other pay and benefits?

And it wants to know what workers think of the rates and their employers’ reactions to Minimum Wage increases.

This year, the Low Pay Commission is considering options for a higher Minimum Wage rate for workers on zero-hours contracts, a proposal put forward in the Taylor Review of modern working practices.

And it plans to focus this year on the rates for workers aged under 25 – it wants to hear about how these work in practice for employers and employees.

Businesses that want to meet the Low Pay Commission in person can apply to do so by clicking here.

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

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