As of this month (October), the national minimum wage has increased by 3.7% to £6.95 for 21 to 24-year-olds and by 4.7% to £5.55 an hour for 18 to 20-year-olds. The minimum wage for 16 to 17-year-olds has risen to £4 an hour and apprentices' wages are now £3.40.
Licensee of the Jolly Crispin in Dudley, West Midlands, Robin Carey said he already pays his staff more than the new minimum wage: “I pay my staff £7 an hour already.
“They are all 18 so I pay them all the same rate. It has to be that way and I have no issues with it. You have got to work with it more and make it work for you not against you.”
Karen Errington from the Rat Inn, Alnwick, Northumberland, is also an advocate of the increased wage. She said: “I think it is good to have people being paid the right amount of money.
“The days are gone where people did not get the right money for what they are doing. I agree with people getting paid an amount to live on.
“It is hard in an industry with increasing costs and worries about Brexit, etc., and costs going up in every area but you have to price things accordingly. It is then you can pay people the right amount of money.”
Also in the north of the nation, Glen Duckett, licensee of the Eagle & Child in Ramsbottom, Lancashire, agrees that the increase is a positive scheme but thinks there should be more focus on apprentices.
He said: “I think that the wage increase is good but they could have done more or something better to increase rates for the lower paid staff, such as apprentices."
More harm than good
However, not all operators are entirely happy about the rise. Licensee of the Ebrington Arms in Chipping Norton, Gloucestershire, Claire Alexander, stated that although the increase is a good idea in principle, it may do more harm than good.
She said: “As a small business with two pubs, we are the ones who pay for it, not the Government who won’t help by giving us relief on rent or VAT, which keeps increasing. Small businesses are being strangled and we won’t be able to employ as many people ultimately.
“It’s a PR story for the Governemnt but could mean less people work and those of us in work are working harder than ever.
“If the Government reduced the VAT for our trade as with countries in the continent, it would more than make up the reduction by collecting tax from more and more people in employment and this has been proven. But that would assume our Government had a shred of common sense.”
The national living wage (NLW) came into force this April and one fifth of licensees thought it was a positive development for the pub trade.
Find out The Morning Advertiser’s top tips on dealing with the NLW here.