Opposition MPs have spoken out against the government’s approach to introducing the National Living Wage.

Speaking at the Association of Convenience Store’s Heart of the Community event in London yesterday (Tuesday), shadow small business minister Bill Esterson criticised the lack of consultation on the NLW and the financial burden facing small businesses.

“It’s no good increasing wage rates if employment and business suffers. When combined with the costs of pension enrolment, the considerable increase in the national minimum wage proposed by George Osborne for next year could see staff costs go up by at least 20%.

“I am not against an increase in the national minimum wage but I can see that there could be a challenging impact on the number of people employed and the health of businesses in general,” the Labour MP said.

“The challenge is about how to implement [these things]. It’s a good idea to ask those directly affected beforehand. With the Chancellor, the consultation, collaboration and partnership is missing.”

Chancellor George Osborne announced the NLW in this summer’s Budget, even though it was not in the Conservative manifesto. It kicks in next April at £7.20 an hour, replacing the existing National Minimum Wage rate of £6.70 per hour.

Scottish National Party MP Phil Boswell added: “Unless government enables businesses to compete through tax relief, what’s the point of the National Living Wage?”

Esterson also said that it was a “very concerning step that the government is going down the route of relaxing Sunday trading rules”.