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Donald MacLeod: The living wage isn’t easy if you’re an employer

(Gordon Robbie / Evening Telegraph)
(Gordon Robbie / Evening Telegraph)

These will prove to be as inaccurate as a BBC weather forecast.

This week’s warning, from The British Retail Consortium, that up to 900,000 retail jobs will be lost if our politician’s obsession with the National Living Wage isn’t checked was an accurate appraisal, though.

It will have sent a shiver down many a store worker’s spine and sent employers scurrying to batten down their financial hatches.

Once a nation of shoppers, we have now almost stopped shopping in the conventional way.

Rate hikes, red tape, lack of parking, punitive fines for anything from dropping a fag butt to straying into a bus lane plus restrictive opening hours, have all contributed to the death of our High Streets.

Shoppers have been forced out of town to fill those gargantuan soulless malls.

Retail titans have seen their profits chipped away as scores of fed-up customers have turned to the internet to do their shopping.

And with all that and more now they now have the added burden of the National Living Wage.

An hourly wage rate which, with no proper debate or explanation, will jump for the over-25s from £6.70 up to £7.20.

What makes it even more galling is that the rate is determined by a team of boffins from Loughborough University, not those who will have to stump up come what may – the employers.

It is set regardless of the rate of inflation, and cannot be questioned.

It’s ridiculous! And worse is to come if Generous George Osborne gets his way.

In an obvious ploy to entice the electorate and batter Labour he wants it set at £9 per hour by 2020, regardless of the state of the economy.

And it’s not just the retail sector that will suffer.

This unsustainable and unpalatable measure will further cripple the licensed trade who are still reeling from the effects of the new drink/drive limit as well as the smoking ban.

Every sector will be affected by the rise and thousands of jobs will go as employment costs soar.

And the pressures employees will be under to keep their job when others less fortunate have lost theirs will be enormous.

Some will find themselves having to do the work of two or more people, as some desperate employers try to balance the books and stay afloat.

And if you’re worried about the ever increasing numbers of economic migrants to the UK, then 16-year-old Lexie Hills’ argument on Question Time that a £9 per hour Living Wage will only pull more migrants should not be discounted. Especially given the UK’s rate will be 10 times that of Eastern European countries.

What gets me is that not one political party is siding with business here.

All, including the SNP, are blindly accepting the National Living Wage should be adopted.

If you have an issue with it, as many do, question the reasoning behind their wholehearted support and the financial implications it will have on your business, and you are deemed an immoral, uncaring pariah, a slave driver, a bully and a lot more.

Yet, you are nothing more than an honest, hard-working employer trying to make ends meet and keep your staff in a job.

Unlike politicians, most employers don’t eat and drink in bars, cafes and restaurants subsidised by the tax-payer.

They don’t have their travel, their accommodation and God only knows what else, all paid for, again by the tax-payer.

They don’t have a gilded pension and a plum job waiting for them at the end of their glittering careers.

All they have is what they made and paid for themselves, which is usually not a lot, and now, because of the new National Living Wage, it will be even less.

There you have it – The Living Wage = Living Hell!

The Fun Loving classy guys

Donald and Callum Strachan with Fun Lovin’ Criminals
Donald and Callum Strachan with Fun Lovin’ Criminals

IT was just like old times when I met up with my great friends, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, at The Barrowlands last Saturday.

Twenty years may have passed since they released their debut album, Come Find Yourself, but they are still Classic Fantastic.

Their waistlines may have filled out a bit (especially frontman Huey’s!), their hair has receded a tad and Scooby Snacks are off the rider now, but they are still a class act.

No more so than when they invited 18-year-old Callum Strachan, who suffers from MS, backstage to meet them – he’s in the middle, with me, Fast, Huey and Frank

Fun Lovin’ they most definitely still are!


Donald MacLeod: The Brit Awards are now a borefest