Independents express anger over Living Wage rise

Independent retailers have vented their anger over the rise of the National Living Wage in a new report.

Responding to a survey conducted by the British Independent Retailers Association, more than half of small business owners said they will be forced to raise their prices and cut jobs to reflect the increase in overheads by the time the National Living Wage breaches £9 an hour in 2020.

The retailers, who remained anonymous, were speaking ahead of today’s announcement that the voluntary rate will increase by 40p to £8.25.

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One shop owner based in the South West said: “We pay significantly above the NMW because we want quality skilled staff, the increase in the new NMW is not going to help the lowest paid because business will have to increase their prices to reflect the increase in overheads, increasing the cost of living and getting us back to square one, but with more coming in and going out.”

In Wales, a shop worker said minimum wages are “killing the local community” and “making the employer consider redundancy in the winter months”, while in Northern Ireland, another retailer said it will be forced to close down if the voluntary rate rises to £9.

Retailers also noted that if Chancellor George Osborne does not renew the current temporary discounts, lower rates and exemptions on business rates in his Autumn Statement, small shops will suffer huge increases in costs as early as April next year.

“The rates discount operated is unfair. I am £1000 over the rateable value to receive the 25% discount. The smaller the rent, the bigger the discount until you reach £10,000 – then you pay no rates even though you are more profitable. This is unfair on the larger businesses who struggle with higher running costs,” said one retailer in Scotland.

A clothing retailer in the Midlands added: “Rates need reviewing in towns to bring it all up to date considering the amount of businesses moving out of the main towns.”

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