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The minimum wage increase is about to hit – and it beggars belief

As if to bang the final nail into the coffin himself, we can only assume the Treasury’s top man, chancellor Rishi Sunak, refuses to give ground on the next wave to crash over the retail and hospitality industries.

I am talking of course about the increase in the National Minimum Wage, a friendly reminder of which was sent out by the government’s email alerts system to employers across the land this afternoon.

For those in the sectors most acutely affected by government lockdown measures preventing them from opening their doors to trade, the alert will have come almost as a sick joke.

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If business rates, VAT and self assessment can all be deferred or suspended, and the government can step in to help out with the wages of furloughed workers (for firms that have cash at hand enough to wait for a call from HRMC with the rebate), was it really beyond the wit of the Number 11 staff to freeze the minimum wage for 90 days?

Notwithstanding the fact that the rise means the exchequer will itself be out of pocket at having to cover furlough wages at a higher rate, the National Minimum Wage disproportionately affects those two at-risk industries ostensibly specially targeted for assistance by the state: retailers and restaurateurs.

All we can hope is that the backlash germinated on social media and percolating up to government over a number of days as the standard template of the genre comes into effect this time, and in time.

For your delectation, here is a link to the most appallingly timed intervention in the labour market in the history of British commerce.

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