A bar owner in the West Midlands has expressed concern over increased financial burdens for businesses following Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's recent Autumn Statement.
While the announcement of a rise in the national living wage to £11.44 per hour was welcomed by some workers, Anne-Marie Simpson, co-owner of Simpson Bar in Sutton Coldfield, highlighted that the financial responsibility would ultimately fall on business owners.
In the statement, Chancellor Hunt also unveiled a reduction in National Insurance (NI) rates and an increase in benefits, eliciting mixed reactions from various sectors.
Ms. Simpson emphasised the potential challenges this wage increase could pose for the hospitality industry, stating, "The increases generously advised to the minimum wage aren't funded by the government – they are funded by business."
According to Ms. Simpson, her bar already pays above the minimum wage for many staff members, and the additional increase places added pressure on support and junior staff, contributing to the overall cost pressures faced by business owners.
She expressed concerns that these measures might lead to heightened costs for customers and trigger an inflationary cycle.
Similar sentiments were echoed in Kidderminster, where Francesca Harmon, owner of a local hairdressing salon, acknowledged the benefits of reduced National Insurance rates but raised concerns about the impact of the rising national minimum wage on employers.
Harmon stated, "Great for my employed staff, but not so great as the employer that now it is an extra £1 per hour, I think, it is going up."
However, Katy Hutchins, a minimum wage worker, offered a different perspective, describing the wage rise as "amazing." Hutchins anticipated positive impacts on her ability to manage food costs, fuel expenses, and household bills.
The diverse opinions among business owners and workers highlight the complex implications of the Autumn Statement's measures on various sectors, with concerns about increased costs and potential benefits for workers simultaneously surfacing.
Article by BBC News
Join Our FREE Business Owners Hub
Get access to our latest blogs, PDF downloads and updates.