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Independent retailers have reacted with concern to the government’s announcement that the national living wage will increase to £8.72 an hour in April.

The rise, which the government has described as the largest cash increase since the minimum wage was introduced 20 years ago, will also trigger increases in employers’ national insurance and pension contributions; a treble whammy for already suffering independent high street outlets.

NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said: “We all want to be able to pay our staff more, to reward them for their hard work during the year, but above inflation increases will put even more pressure on local stores, many of whom have already had to cut staff in order to meet the increased payroll costs associated with the introduction of auto enrolment pensions.

“Many retailers rely on family members to help run their stores and already are unable to pay themselves the living wage for the hours that they work.”

Mr Reddish added: “The government has committed itself to raising the living wage to over £10 an hour. If this is to be achievable without destroying the independent retail sector then the Prime Minister needs to use his majority in the House of Commons to take urgent steps to support rather than penalise retailers.

“Reforming the dysfunctional business rates system would be a good place for Mr Johnson to start.”

The following rates will come into effect on 1 April 2020:

Age Range Hourly Rate from 1 April 2020
Aged 25+ £8.72
Aged 21-24 £8.20
Aged 18-20 £6.45
Under 18 £4.55
Apprentice* £4.15

*Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either aged under 19 or 19+ and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

As an employer, you need to make sure you’re paying your staff correctly, as the government has committed to stronger enforcement across the UK.

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