The country's small store operators have been cheered by reports the government may freeze the national minimum wage at £3.60 an hour for another year. Trevor Dixon, head of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: "We are delighted. We strongly recommended it should not change. We felt it was too early to assess the full effect of the minimum wage and that it would be inappropriate to increase it on its first anniversary." The British Retail Consortium said it was not surprised. Its spokesman said: "We never expected there to be an upwards shift because it has not had enough time to bed down and for the consequences to be seen." The Scottish Grocers' Federation is one body that does support the idea of raising the rate 10p an hour from June 2000. But ministers are believed to favour freezing the rate until spring 2001, giving more time to assess the full impact of the minimum wage on the economy. This is contrary to the advice given by the Low Pay Commission in a report delivered to the government before Christmas. The report, which has not yet been made public, is believed to say the minimum wage has caused no disruption to business, and should pave the way for the rate to be increased to £3.70 an hour. The Grocer understands no evidence has been submitted to the Commission that would support the idea of a freeze on the minimum wage. The Commission is also thought to have backed a previous recommendation that the rate should apply to those aged 21 and above. One commentator said the government was being ultra cautious about not upsetting the business community and did not want to box itself into a position of having "regular ratcheting up" of the rate. But he said: "It's far better to implement small amounts rather than wait for a year or two and then make a substantial increase that would be far tougher to meet." {{NEWS }}