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Minimum wage rise must not halt economic growth

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: January 17, 2014

Chancellor George Osborne speaks with staff and customers at the Chiff Chaff Cafe in Kempston

Chancellor George Osborne speaks with staff and customers at the Chiff Chaff Cafe in Kempston

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THE area’s chamber of commerce has given its reaction to Chancellor George Osborne’s call for a rise in the national minimum wage.

Chris Hobson, Head of Information and Representation at the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Chambers of Commerce, said there is more to the economic recovery than businesses keeping a close eye on their wage bills.

He said: “For most businesses, their staff are their most important asset and paying a fair wage is an important part of their overall recruitment policy.

“In a survey of members midway through last year, looking back over the 12 previous months, more than half had awarded a general pay rise and this was during a time when the economy was really struggling.

“However, there is a bigger discussion to be had about the cost of doing business generally, of which the debate about National Minimum Wage is just one component.

“Ministers must remember that as well as their wage bill, businesses face a raft of other costs to employ people, including iniquitous and punitive business rates, national insurance contributions and auto-enrolment pension contributions to name just three – not to mention the need to invest heavily in many young people to ensure they are ready for the workplace.

“There is also a danger that the impact of such an increase would fall disproportionately on firms with only small staff numbers.

“As the economic recovery is finally starting to take root, it’s absolutely vital that nothing throws it off course.

“Government should therefore focus its efforts on bringing down the cost of doing business in the UK, ensuring there is a long-term plan in place to underpin economic growth and prosperity and making sure the education and training system becomes more responsive to the needs of employers.”

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