The SGF has called on the Conservatives to cancel their manifesto pledge of tying the national minimum wage to 60% of median earnings, describing the pledge as “politically set.”
The call comes as Government data shows wages have declined o.6% when comparing the first three months of 2017 and 2016. Inflation figures also released by the Government’s Office for National Statistics show it to be at a two year high at 2.9% for May.
SGF head of policy Dr John Lee commented, ‘Retailers are suffering from the cumulative impact of cost increases. The national living wage has fallen most heavily on the retail sector with over half a million workers being effected and these constantly increasing staff costs must end.
We need a national living wage that reflects underlying economic conditions and the ability of different industry sectors to absorb increased staff costs.’
With the outcome of the election, passing legislation is likely to be tricky due to even a slight rebellion by a couple of Conservative or DUP MPs making passing new bills impossible without the support of rival parties. However, this is unlikely to impact attempts to increase wages as both Labour, Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party are in favour of wage increases.
In their 2017 manifesto, the DUP said increased wages have: “helped increase family incomes across the United Kingdom" and called for “further increases.” They did not specify what level of increase or when it should occur.
Retailers Raj Aggarwal and Dee Sedani previously told Retail Express that rising costs have put them under constant pressure. “When you’ve got 18 members of staff in one store, the wage rise is huge.
"The challenge is some staff see a wage rise as a given; they aren’t more productive because of it,” said Aggarwal, who has Spar stores in Leicester and Sheffield.
However, other retailers such as Sam Coldbeck who owns Wharfedale Premier in hull have used previous increases as an opportunity. In a previous column in Retail Express Coldbeck said: “I am very pleased to report that following the first living wage increase, we are actually performing better than before.”