By Daniel Hunter

The 1.8 per cent increase in the adult National Minimum Wage rate is a wise move that strikes the right balance between helping retailers to maintain and create jobs and supporting low income households.

But freezing the youth rate will make only a marginal difference to the retail sector.

"The Government's made a thoroughly wise decision," British Retail Consortium (BRC) Director General Stephen Robertson said reacting to today's announcement.

"As the largest private sector employer, retail recognises its vital role in providing much needed employment. Over 98 per cent of people working for our members are paid more than the minimum wage but this is the right move in the current economic conditions.

"This sensible increase shows appropriate restraint at a time of falling inflation and rising unemployment. 1.8 per cent is within the limits the BRC's evidence showed would allow retailers to create and maintain jobs. Any larger increase would have piled extra pressure on retailers at a time of weak customer demand.

"Freezing the youth rate may make a marginal difference to work opportunities for young people but retailers pay the rate for the job and the vast majority of under 20s working in retail are paid the adult rate."

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