Steve Berry, who runs Berry's News, Food and Wine in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said that another significant increase in the minimum wage could result in job losses. "We were able to absorb the most recent increase but we're stretched as far as we can go now and if another one comes in we may have to cut a member of staff."
Londis retailer Steve Bassett from Weymouth, Dorset, said that if a higher minimum wage is introduced he would have to restructure staff rotas to make up the difference. "Hopefully I wouldn't have to let anyone go but I certainly would have to look at the hours people work to try to save money," he said.
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said Gordon Brown's promise, made at the Labour conference, would compromise the independence of the National Minimum Wage advisory group, the Low Pay Commission (LPC).
"It undermines the LPC's role as an independent body soley tasked to make recommendations on future increases," said Lowman.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) also questioned the PM's pledge. "Ministers would not make promises about interest rates as they are set by an independent committee at the Bank of England, so it's troubling when they appear to treat the minimum wage in a different way," said deputy director-general John Cridland.
The minimum wage currently stands at £5.80 per hour for over 21s and £4.83 for those aged 1821. It has been increased on a yearly basis since 1999.