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Rise in National Minimum Wage rise is "irresponsible" says BRC

Published:  25 March, 2010

The increase in the national minimum wage announced on the back of yesterday's Budget has been described as "irresponsible" by the British Retail Consortium.

The BRC described the increase as "excessive" and "at odds with government promises of prudence and at odds with what's happening to pay generally - with
many employers forced to freeze pay to safeguard jobs".

It added in a statement: "Today's 2.2% increase will take the adult minimum wage from £5.80 per hour to £5.93 in October 2010. In the year to January 2010, average private sector pay fell by 0.7% while for all employees, it rose only 1%."

Whilst the BRC said it supports the principle of the national minimum wage in the UK "it has to reflect economic realities and mustn't damage business' ability to maintain job opportunities".

The BRC had been hoping for the minimum wage to be either frozen or increased by 1%.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: "A measure of this magnitude should have been in the Budget speech. This increase is downright irresponsible. It's at odds with government promises of prudence and public sector freezes and will damage retailers' ability to maintain and create jobs. How can an increase virtually double last year's be justified? Economic conditions were far weaker in the run up to this year's decision than twelve months earlier.

"The BRC supports the principle of the minimum wage, but it's sheer madness to be forcing new costs on this scale onto retailers and their suppliers."