The National Minimum Wage is once again under the spotlight with the Low Pay Commission (LPC) launching a consultation period to gauge opinion on the next round of increases.

As part of the consultation, The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) will be meeting with the LPC to discuss a number of elements including the rates for 16-17 year olds – currently set at £3 per hour – benefits in kind and accommodation offsets.

The LPC will also be judging whether the proposed October 2006 increases in adult and development rates it recommended in its 2005 report remain appropriate in the current economic circumstances.
The LPC wants to know if the introduction of the 16-17-year-old minimum wage has affected the demand for workers from that age group, the provision of workplace training and participation in education and training. The commission will also look at the types of benefits-in-kind being offered by employers and the reasons they are offered to staff.

One area the ACS is pleased is included in the consultation is the adult NMW rate for workers aged 22+. This increases from its present hourly rate of £4.85 to £5.05 in October 2005 and is set to rise to £5.35 in October 2006.

ACS communications manager James Lowman said: “With the 16-17-year-old rate I believe there is a general view that a basic baseline would work well, but there’s concern that the rate could increase. We’re generally happy with these principles but we do need to hear from c-stores. We’ve had feedback that the increase to £5.05 was reasonable but we believe there could be concern over a £5.35 rate.”