With local elections just a couple of weeks away, Jeremy Corbyn took the opportunity to make some big promises to voters last week.
The biggest announcement for independent retailers was the Labour leader’s “real living wage” plan – a promise to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour in 2020, far past the Government’s expectation to reach £9 an hour by the same year.
It came as independent convenience retailers across the country continue to be bombarded with increasing costs for goods, bills and staff, with no respite. At the living wage’s current rate of £7.50, retailers tell us they’re really struggling.
The Low Pay Commission has recognised that small businesses have been hit much harder than large corporations and the ACS has reported a huge impact on how convenience stores are operating. Three out of four convenience stores have had to reduce staff hours as a result of the living wage, and 76% of retailers have let go of staff altogether because of increased employment costs.
In the same week, Corbyn promised to put an end to the bias the Conservatives have towards big companies and radically reform the business rates system.
Rates reform is much needed, but it will come as little relief to retailers that have already been forced out of business by wage bills they simply can’t afford.