Evidence call when setting Living Wage

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has published survey results showing that a third of companies (34%) have had to increase their wage bills since the introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) in April 2016.

The survey of more than 1,600 business leaders across the UK, undertaken in August 2016 and supported by Middlesex University, revealed that many companies affected by the introduction of the NLW have already changed their recruitment plans or planned to do so in the future. A quarter of affected firms (25%) have reduced recruitment in response, and 34% plan to do so if the NLW rises to £9 per hour by 2020. Others are looking at changes to staff hours, benefits or pay growth.

These changes reflect the rising cost burden on many companies. Although the majority (65%) of firms pay their staff above the NLW of £7.20 per hour and have not been affected, 25% of those that were affected have increased their wage bill slightly, and 9% have increased their wage bill significantly.

The businesses most exposed to the NLW have largely absorbed the increase in costs for now, but plan to pursue cost reduction measures if the NLW increases to £9 per hour. The BCC urges the government to use caution with future NLW increases.

Key findings in the survey:

  • Most businesses pay their staff above the NLW, but more than a third have increased their wage bills since it was introduced in April 2016
  • Of the firms whose wage bill increased because of the NLW, most have not yet made major changes, but more of these firms expect to do so if the NLW rises to £9 by 2020
  • Only 34% of businesses affected by the NLW raised prices to offset the cost, but 63% would do so if it rose to £9 by 2020
  • Of the businesses affected by the introduction of the NLW, 25% reduced recruitment in response, 18% reduced staff hours, 18% reduced pay growth, 24% reduced staff benefits, 25% reduced recruitment, and 37% made no changes
  • If the NLW increases to £9 per hour by 2020, 25% would reduce staff hours, 29% would reduce pay growth, 33% would reduce staff benefits, 34% would reduce recruitment, and 13% would make no changes         

Commenting, Marcus Mason, Head of Education and Skills at the BCC, said:

“A decent wage can make a huge impact on employees’ lives and their performance at work, and most businesses are able to pay above the NLW.

“However, a significant number of firms have already had to re-balance their books to meet the cost of the NLW, which can have a knock-on effect on recruitment or growth plans. Many firms would have to change their business models, by increasing prices and reducing staff, if the NLW increases to £9 per hour by 2020.

“The government needs to take an evidence-based approach to setting the NLW. The rate should be set by the Low Pay Commission and be determined by the state of the economy, weighing up the various pressures businesses face. Further NLW increases need to be proportionate, reflecting business uncertainty, slowing growth and high input costs, to avoid having a negative effect on employment.”


Notes to editors:

The BCC surveyed 1,627 businesses between August 1-15.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) sits at the heart of a powerful network of 52 Accredited Chambers of Commerce across the UK, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes and within all sectors. Our Global Business Network connects exporters with nearly 40 markets around the world. For more information, visit: www.britishchambers.org.uk


Target set to trigger Brexit

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that the government will include a bill in the 2017 Queen’s Speech to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, Dr Adam Marshall, Acting Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Businesses need day-one certainty on the rules and regulations they will face when the UK exits the European Union.

“A stable regulatory framework – not immediate disruption and change – is important at a time of transition and business uncertainty. Since businesses have already incurred the costs of adjustment and adaptation, existing EU rules should be maintained, with more thorough reviews over the fullness of time.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement demonstrates that the government appears to be getting the message on the need for legal and regulatory clarity. Businesses will welcome Mrs May’s focus on stability, but will await the details of the planned ‘Great Repeal Bill’, and a better understanding of the terms of trade they will face in future, to pass final judgment.”

On the PM’s announcement that Article 50 will be triggered no later than March 2017, Adam Marshall added:

“For most businesses, getting Brexit right is far more important than doing it quickly. Now that the Prime Minister has set a timetable, the government must demonstrate to business that it has a clear and coherent strategy to defend the UK’s economic and business interests in the negotiations that lie ahead.”

Heathrow expansion = Good news for Yorkshire

Heathrow Airport has unveiled proposals to grow its domestic route network from 2021 if selected for expansion – four years before a new runway would open.

New capacity could create up to 21 daily domestic services – including boosting connections to Leeds Bradford Airport with a possible early morning connection to the hub.  Heathrow is also proposing extending its £10 discount on passenger charges for all flights to UK destinations and bringing forward £10 million in start-up capital to support new domestic routes from 2021.  The proposals to boost connectivity have been welcomed by Leeds Bradford Airport and Leeds Chamber of Commerce.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has increased the need to deliver more growth for every corner of Britain faster. Heathrow’s new proposals show how the UK’s only hub is uniquely placed to make Brexit Britain stronger and fairer for everyone, not just London.  If Heathrow expansion is approved by Government, the airport will work alongside ministers and consult with the community to refine current expansion plans and increase existing capacity by up to an additional 25,000 flights a year from 2021.

Taken together, the package is a huge win for Yorkshire– supporting small and large exporters, boosting competition and reducing prices to consumers.   If granted consent, the additional 25,000 flights are expected to generate up to £1.5 billion in additional economic growth in the crucial first five years after Brexit, on top of the up to £211 billion projected by the Airports Commission.

Should the Government approve an expanded Heathrow, the full package of measures would include:

• Creating space for up to an additional 25,000 annual flights from 2021 whilst the new runway is being built

• Working with Government to ensure the new capacity – up to 21 daily flights – is dedicated for use specifically on UK routes like Leeds Bradford, a proposal made easier by Britain’s decision to leave the EU

• Continuing the new £10 discount for all flights to UK destinations from Heathrow until at least 2037, as long as there is justification and it is deemed to be in the public interest

• Bringing forward £10 million in start-up capital to support new domestic connections from 2021

• Finalising our timetable for establishing supply chain hubs.

Tony Hallwood, Leeds Bradford Airport Aviation Development Director, said:
“Heathrow is Yorkshire’s gateway to hundreds of worldwide destinations. Expansion there will see a higher quality link from Leeds Bradford Airport, securing better connections with more investment and tourism drawn to Yorkshire. That’s why a runway at Heathrow is the right choice for all of the UK.”

Gerald Jennings, President Leeds Chamber of Commerce said:
“As we enter the new economic world which Brexit will represent, it has never been more important for companies to reach out to new world markets. Opportunity is definitely out there, indeed our latest economic survey, out this month, reports increases in the number of companies doing business in North America and South East Asia for the third consecutive year running. Heathrow to the world via Leeds-Bradford Airport is already helping local businesses reach these markets but with expansion and a further runway comes the potential for more destinations and greater world access.”

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:
“This Brexit Boost Plan is our commitment to making the UK stronger and fairer for everyone – faster. It would generate around £55bn more in growth than Gatwick in the early years of Brexit. Our proposals for an additional 25,000 flights a year from 2021 would help businesses and families from across Yorkshire benefit earlier from Heathrow expansion, while protecting our commitment to meet and exceed the Airports Commission’s environmental conditions.

Leeds office move – Monday 26/09/16

The Leeds office of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is moving Monday 26 September 2016.

We hope that the transition will be seamless and not affect businesses or any of our other partners in any way.  However, there will be periods where phones, emails etc are transferred and so we apologise now if you’re unable to contact Leeds-based staff direct at any point.

Our Bradford & York offices continue to operate normally – 01274 772777 or 01904 567838.

Leeds Chamber Property Forum Sept 16

The Leeds Chamber Property Forum heard from 4 presenters at its latest meeting on 13th September. The forum heard the latest update from the Waterfront Group, including a supplementary presentation from the Environment Agency. The forum also heard from Leeds City Council who gave details about the proposed East Leeds Orbital Road, which will unlock land to deliver 6,500 new homes to the east of Leeds.Richard Mantle, Opera North’s gregarious CEO presented the audience with exciting plans for the Howard Assembly Rooms on Upper Briggate and last but not least the forum heard from David Shepherd, newly appointed Head of Trade and Inward Investment at Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership. A copy of the presentation can be downloaded here. Thanks to DWF for hosting

Action Call, Fri 16 Sep: #GreatNorthExpo2018

Businesses are being asked to get behind Bradford’s bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North.

On Friday 16 September, people are asked to state on social media platform Twitter how and why Bradford should host the exhibition in 2108. The volume of activity will be assessed and form part of the criteria for judging which city will host the event.  Bradford is on a shortlist of four along with Blackpool, Newcastle-Gateshead and Sheffield. (Each of the four cities has a separate ‘social media activity day’ when they’re assessed.)

Using the following hashtags, #BradfordGXn and #GreatNorthExpo2018 you should give examples of what you like about Bradford or why it would make a great host.

Examples could include:

  • Statistics/interesting facts about local arts and culture
  • Your favourite building, business or cultural landmark
  • Interesting photos or video links taken in the District

More information can be found at http://www.gxnbradford.com/

  1. The Great Exhibition of the North will be a two-month spectacular to showcase the best of Northern art, culture and design to national and international audiences.
  2. It will not be at a fixed venue but will utilise various sites and settings.
  3. There is a financial incentive for both the District and the wider North.

Here’s those hashtags again – #BradfordGXn and #GreatNorthExpo2018