Labour leader Ed Miliband has announced plans to increase the National Minimum Wage to £8 an hour if elected.
Speaking at the Labour Party conference, he said: “It is not good enough for us that one in five people in our country go out to work, make their contribution and are in low pay.”
If the proposals go through, it would impact around 1.4 million jobs and would be introduced in annual stages by the Low Pay Commission by October 2019.
The National Minimum Wage rate currently stands at £6.31 per hour and is set to rise to £6.50 on 1 Oct.
||18 - 20||Under 18||Apprentice|
|2014 (from 1 Oct)||£6.50||£5.13||£3.79||£2.73|
|2013 (current rate)||£6.31||£5.03||£3.72||£2.68|
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman warned political parties against undermining the Low Pay Commission.
“Minimum wage rates should be delivered through an objective assessment of the facts by the Low Pay Commission,” he said. “The Commission already has a clear remit to increase the National Minimum Wage as high as possible without negatively impacting on employment, and we do not believe that it is responsible for politicians to use the minimum wage as a bargaining tool for the election.”
Lowman added it was important to consider the overall impact of a rise in minimum wage. “ACS has played a consistent role in the low pay debate, communicating the impact that wage increases have on local shops and the evidence is compelling for the convenience sector,” he added. “When the minimum wage is increased, retailers have to make tough choices on how to reduce costs elsewhere such as reducing staff hours, delaying business investment and taking on more hours themselves.”
The Confederation of British Industry deputy director general Katja Hall warned against increases. “The minimum wage is set at the highest rate it can be without putting job creation at risk at the moment.”
Chris Ward of Eurospar Milford Haven in Wales labelled it a “frightening prospect” while Alan Edwards of MSR Newsgroup in Nottingham said the proposed increases coud lead to increased prices and staff cuts.