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During Q4 of 2018 we consulted over 600 businesses through quantitative data collection and over 4000 businesses via qualitative data collection to formulate our 2019 policy strategy and campaign schedule. Unsurprisingly, skills and reducing the costs of doing business were two key topics identified by businesses. The Chamber has done a significant amount of work to support businesses in this area (such as the publication of our salary and benefits benchmarking report – the largest of its kind in the two counties). This year the Chamber will submit a detailed report to the government as part of the Low Pay Commission (LPC) consultation, which is gathering evidence on the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW).

Staff recruitment and retention have long been issues that have posed challenges for businesses across the two counties. At times it can be very difficult to balance setting competitive salaries with protecting your bottom line, particularly for small businesses. Historically, businesses have fed back to us that NMW or NLW increases have squashed their bottom line but that they have felt compelled to maintain the differentials between entry level jobs on NMW and positions of seniority. Businesses have begun to feed back to us that they simply cannot maintain these differentials and there may be something of a levelling out across wages.

The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is the independent body that advises the Government on the level of the minimum wage. In October of this year the LPC will produce a report with a set of recommendations regarding the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates which will apply from April 2020.

For the recommendation report, the LPC are seeking business views on the viability of the stated target and are particularly interested in:

  • Views on the affordability and effects of an increase to the ‘on target’ rate for April 2020 – currently around £8.67
  • Evidence of the impact of increases in the NLW since its introduction – including the April 2019 uprating – on workers, employers, the labour market and the economy
  • Evidence of how employers are seeking to improve productivity
  • Evidence on how the economic outlook is affected by the process of leaving the European Union

For the other rates – affecting workers under 25 and apprentices – the LPC require evidence to make recommendations on our traditional basis of ‘helping raise the pay for as many low-paid workers as possible without damaging their employment prospects’.

The Chamber will submit a detailed report to government with views and evidence from local businesses for the LPC recommendation report. If you would like to feed into this you can email your response to policy@hwchamber.co.uk

Deadline: Wednesday 29 May.

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