Retailers have given the thumbs-up to today’s announcement by the government of a rise in the national minimum wage that will be below the current rate of inflation.
From October, the wage will edge up 1.8%, or 11p, to £6.19 per hour.
The British Retail Consortium said the increase struck the right balance between helping retailers to maintain and create jobs and supporting low-income households.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “The government’s made a thoroughly wise decision. As the largest private sector employer, retail recognises its vital role in providing much-needed employment. Over 98% of people working for our members are paid more than the minimum wage, but this is the right move in the current economic conditions.
“This sensible increase shows appropriate restraint at a time of falling inflation and rising unemployment. One-point-eight per cent is within the limits the BRC’s evidence showed would allow retailers to create and maintain jobs. Any larger increase would have piled extra pressure on retailers at a time of weak customer demand.”
The government also said there would be a freeze in the minimum wage for workers under the age of 21.
“Freezing the youth rate may make a marginal difference to work opportunities for young people,” Robertson commented, “but retailers pay the rate for the job and the vast majority of under-20s working in retail are paid the adult rate.”