The British Retail Consortium has slammed the minimum wage increase announced in the wake of yesterday’s Budget.

Calling the hike “irresponsible”, the BRC said raising the minimum wage was excessive and at odds with the pay freezes implemented by many employers to safeguard jobs.

Yesterday’s announcement of a 2.2% increase will lift the adult minimum wage from £5.80 per hour to £5.93 from October.

“A measure of this magnitude should have been in the Budget speech,” said BRC director general Stephen Robertson (pictured).

“This increase is downright irresponsible [and] at odds with government promises of prudence and will damage retailers’ ability to maintain and create jobs.”

He added: "How can an increase virtually double last year’s be justified? Economic conditions were far weaker in the run up to this year’s decision than 12 months earlier.”

Meanwhile, the Forum of Private Business welcomed measures designed to support small businesses including the four-year extension of HM Revenue & Customs’ Time to Pay scheme and creation of a dedicated helpline for second-time applicants to the tax deferral process; the implementation of a five-day target for payments by public bodies; and the creation of a Credit Adjudication Service with powers to overturn loan refusals.

“While we’re sceptical of the motives behind some of the measures announced in the Budget, coming so soon before a general election, there are some reasons to celebrate,” said FPB boss Phil Orford.

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