Business leaders say the cost of the National Minimum Wage is concerning firms in the region as the UK struggles against low labour cost countries.
The pre-Budget warning from Black Country Chamber of Commerce was issued amid calls for a package today from Chancellor George Osborne which would “genuinely promote productivity, entrepreneuralism and enterprise growth”.
Mike Dell, president of the Black Country Chamber, said: “Businesses are particularly concerned about the cost of the National Minimum Wage.
“The wage differentials between staff on the Minimum Wage and higher paid, more skilled, employees are in some cases very small.
“Regardless of this, any increase means an increase throughout business, as to only increase the National Minimum Wage employees would erode differentials.
“Increases in the National Minimum Wage would cause businesses a higher cost than would be at first apparent.
“The UK continues to struggle to compete with low labour cost countries, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
“Therefore if the National Minimum Wage cannot be removed altogether it must not be constantly uplifted at rates that exceed inflation, especially when labour is currently plentiful.”
Mr Dell said business needed a lower tax base and a “clear and consistent” tax system to help companies plan long term.
“We also need a less burdensome regulatory system. The total cost of major regulations to businesses approved since 1998 is a staggering £76.81 billion.
“If this burden was removed, or at least reduced, businesses could spend more time developing products and services and providing employment.
“We urge the Government to reaffirm its commitment to a fair fuel tax stabiliser to cut duty on petrol and diesel when international oil prices rise.
“Despite the fact that fuel duty is scheduled to rise in October, haulage firms need a review of fuel duty to improve their competitiveness.”
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