Living Wage backed by most West small firms but minority fear it will cost jobs

February 6, 2014

Just over half the owners of small and medium-sized businesses in the West are in favour of the Living Wage, according to a new survey.

A quarter of these believe the policy will be implemented in their business in the near future, the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer reveals. The Barometer is a quarterly poll to gauge sentiment of owners and senior manager in smaller firms on a number of financial issues.

However, 23% of those taking part in the survey oppose to the Living Wage, with 31% of these respondents saying it would mean cutting jobs and a further 23% saying that they simply could not afford it.

Close Brothers Asset Finance chief executive Mike Randall, pictured, said: “Rather than a legally enforceable level of pay like the National Minimum Wage, adopting the Living Wage is an ethical decision that businesses may take to ensure their staff can achieve a decent standard of living.

“The idea has been in the spotlight recently, receiving widespread political support, but to date has seen limited backing from employers. So it’s interesting to learn that such a large proportion is now considering its implementation.”

The Living Wage is £7.45 an hour (£8.55 in London) – significantly higher than the £6.31 an hour National Minimum Wage for adults.

A number of organisations, including Business West, which runs the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, are backing the Living Wage while a number of mainly public sector employers have adopted it as their level of basic pay.

Mike Randall added: “Many firms are operating on very tight margins, so it’s understandable that they might not feel able to boost wages.

“However, the other side of the argument is that making this kind of commitment to staff may lead to better quality work, higher levels of productivity and increased staff retention as employees feel valued and therefore potentially more loyal to their employer.”

The Close Brothers Business Barometer also shows that 38% of West firms polled have given staff a pay rise in the last year. Of these, 64% were in line with inflation and 21% were higher than the rate of inflation.



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