George Osborne's national living wage could already be hurting job opportunities

The BRC has warned that the national living wage could contribute to a decade of job losses

George Osborne's national living wage could already be hurting job opportunities as companies draw up drastic plans to shrink the number of people they employ.

British Retail Consortium, a trade association of big and small retailers, has warned that measures like Osborne's national living wage and the apprenticeship levy, intended to help the poorest in society, will contribute to a decade of job losses.

Tesco has already revealed plans to lose or cut the hours of one in six staff, according to a report in the Grocer, with stores in the north of England and Scotland particularly at risk of job losses. Tesco laid out the plans in a modelling document and said that it might not end up going through with them.

"Areas that are already economically fragile are likely to see the greatest impact of store closures and some of the people affected by changing roles will be those who may find it hardest to transition into new jobs that are created," the BRC said.

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The BRC study suggests that as many as a third of retail jobs could go by 2025 because of the policy changes, while 74,000 of the 270,000 shops in the UK could close. Nearly 30 per cent of these closures could be in Wales and the North of England, the BRC has warned.

George Osborne's so-called national living wage, which is actually far less than the amount calculated to be enough to live on by the Living Wage Foundation, comes into force in April.

It will introduce a rate of £7.20 an hour for over-25s, replacing the minimum wage of £6.70 an hour. The BRC estimates that this will come at the cost of between £1 billion and £3 billion to retailers annually by 2020.

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