Wetherspoon chief warns National Living Wage will threaten pubs

Tim Martin said that pubs in poorer areas would come under pressure

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The Independent Online

The National Living Wage could force pubs to close and contribute to the decline of struggling British high streets, according to the boss of JD Wetherspoon.

JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has joined the choir of employers saying that George Osborne’s plan to introduce a National Living Wage in April will be bad for business.

Mr Martin said that pubs in poorer areas would come under pressure, because a higher minimum wage will make pubs less able to compete with supermarket prices. This could add to dereliction in failing UK high streets, he said.

"It is certain that high streets in less affluent areas, which already suffer from serious problems of empty shops and dereliction, will suffer further if pubs and other labour-intensive businesses close," Mr Martin said.

He took aim at politicians making decisions on a “political whim” and without consulting relevant bodies, such as the Low Pay Commission.

Wetherspoon’s warning comes on the heels of a survey showing that the National Living Wage is sending shockwaves through the job market as businesses scale back recruitment to prepare for the pressure of paying higher wages.

Chancellor George Osborne introduced a new ‘living wage’ to raise hourly rates to  £7.20 by April 2016 for the over 25s, with a further increase of £9 per hour by 2020.

However the Living Wage Foundation, which calculates the amount a person needs to live on using economic data, said that the average person needs £7.85 an hour and £9.15 in London – already short of Osborne’s rate.

Wetherspoon pre-tax profits are down 25 per cent on the year ending July 26, to £59.7 million, the company said on Friday.

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