LEGAL | Staff Reporter, UK

ALMR welcomes sector support but warns on wage costs

The ALMR has welcomed pledges to reform business rates, but warned about increasing wage costs for employers.

ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The confirmation that a Labour government would extend rates relief to small music venues and undertake a full review of the system is very welcome. The current unfair system of business rates has been one of the ALMR’s chief concerns over the years and a complete reform of the system is overdue.

“A national review of local pubs would also be a great opportunity for the sector to engage and fully articulate the messages we have been pushing. A focused review of the challenges and opportunities being faced by pubs will give us a vital link to the Government and, given the sector’s importance, is something that all parties should consider. Additional steps to promote tourism, and highlight the importance of tourism to the UK, are also a welcome addition to the manifesto.

“We are concerned, however, that policies with the manifesto have the potential to significantly increase costs for employers. Labour has pledged to ban zero-hours contracts and increase level of the National Minimum Wage to that of the Living Wage.

“Flexible contracts can be a beneficial option for both employer and employee, particularly in the eating and drinking out sector when demand fluctuates and many young people like to combine their work with study. We have not seen any widespread evidence of zero-hours contract abuse and a blanket ban on them would harm many employers’ ability to take on staff.

“Additionally, any increases to the National Minimum Wage should only be done with the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission, based on economic circumstances. A politically set wage target could see many businesses struggle to afford the increase.”

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