British retailers are calling on the chancellor to eschew the living wage and introduce new measures to boost productivity in next month’s emergency budget.
In a new submission to chancellor George Osborne, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that it wants the government to “work with the retail industry to ensure that employees are able to reach their full potential.”
Rejecting proposals for a so-called “living wage” – a salary calculated according to the basic cost of living – the retailers’ group said that the government should “respect the independence” of the Low Pay Commission, an existing body that advises the government about the national minimum wage.
“Calls have come from some quarters for an arbitrary increase in the minimum wage or an introduction of the Living Wage,” the BRC said in the submission, adding: “These suggestions are not only blunt instruments but, when combined with a reduction in benefits, won’t put any more money into people’s pockets.”
The retailers’ group has instead asked the government to “improve productivity” and “develop sustainable solutions” to improve workers’ pay, suggesting expanding apprenticeships and cutting taxes for low earners as possible solutions.
The BRC also asked the chancellor to consider reforming business rates – property taxes levied on businesses – and urged the government to secure the UK’s membership in the European Union with a “fully functioning single market.”
Manufacturers focus on skills and tax breaks
The manufacturing sector also outlined its summer budget demands today, asking for tax breaks for investment and access to skills.
The annual investment allowance, which allows firms to deduct the full value of a qualifying item from profits before tax, is currently set at £500,000 and is temporary.
The manufacturers’ body EEF said its wants the new permanent level to be at least £250,000 when it comes up for review, instead of returning to the old rate of £25,000.
The recommendation of having the permanent AIA set at £250,000 was also called for by the Confederation of British Industry.
Meanwhile, it has also said that migration policy must not prevent companies from accessing skilled employees from outside the EU.
It also wants the government to fund apprenticeships through a voucher system.