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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 175

Date:- 13 November 2004

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TUC's minimum wage proposal would devastate small businesses.

THE Forum of Private Business (FPB) was formed in 1977 and is a pressure group fighting on behalf of private businesses. FPB represents approximately 25,000 UK-based businesses employing in excess of 600,000 people, and is a powerful lobbying voice in both the UK and the European Union.

This week the North West based business pressure group, representing 25,000 small and medium sized firms, launched a fierce attack on the TUC for proposing that the hourly rate of the minimum wage should rise from £4.85 to £5.35 in 2005 moving to £6 in 2006.

The Forum of Private Business Chief Executive Nick Goulding said:- "the TUC's General Secretary Brendan Barber is seriously misguided when he said:- the increase was "fair and affordable."

A survey of FPB's membership this month has revealed that 39.8 per cent believed that the TUC's proposal to raise the minimum wage to £5.35 in 2005 would be 'bad' for their business, while a further 24 per cent believed it would be 'very bad'. Fewer than two per cent of respondents thought the increase would be good or very good.

"We cannot lose sight of the fact that the minimum wage has soared by 34.7 per cent over five years, a figure well above earnings growth. The minimum wage is now becoming dangerously high and any further increase could have disasterous effects on the small business community. Where big business can absorb the increase, as they employ relatively few staff on the minimum wage, it is actually small businesses that are hit hardest especially those businesses in poorer and remote areas. Above all it is an unwelcome additional pressure on businesses already being stung with a range of higher costs including increased employers' National Insurance contributions and rocketing levels of insurance premiums." said  Mr Goulding.

Mr Goulding said:- the most recent increase to the minimum wage is already having a heavy impact on high employment sectors such as retail, hotels, restaurants, cleaning, security, social care, hairdressing and textile manufacturing.

Alan Scott, owner, Bryn Hedd Nursing Home, Penmaenmawr said:- "If I were forced to pay £6 per hour my business would not be viable and I would be forced to close the only Nursing Home in the Penmaenmawr/Llanfairfechan area. Though my employees are first class, I can only afford to pay them so much. The minimum wage is becoming a barrier to wealth creation."

Bryce Hamblin, joint managing director, C & H Fabrics Ltd, Tunbridge Wells said:- "We have all just about managed to absorb the substantial increases in minimum wage so far, but business is not expanding at a level which can sustain any further significant increase. I feel sure that at some point, a further rise is going to force job cuts and that this point is not far off."

Seamus Halton, owner, the Close Nursing and Residential Home, Burcot, Oxfordshire said:- "What world do they (TUC) live in. Should £6.00 per hour go through I will have to close my business."

A spokesman for Stationary Express, Edinburgh said:-"If the rise goes through we would have to consider closing our retail operation with the loss of six jobs. The pay differentials are disappearing and there is no one wanting to take on the management positions due to this. Who is going to guarantee the self employed get a wage? My staff get more than I do."

Alan Scott, owner, Bryn Hedd Nursing Home, Penmaenmawr said:- "If I were forced to pay £6 per hour my business would not be viable and I would be forced to close the only Nursing Home in the Penmaenmawr/Llanfairfechan area. Though my employees are first class, I can only afford to pay them so much. The minimum wage is becoming a barrier to wealth creation."

Bryce Hamblin, joint managing director, C & H Fabrics Ltd, Tunbridge Wells said:- "We have all just about managed to absorb the substantial increases in minimum wage so far, but business is not expanding at a level which can sustain any further significant increase. I feel sure that at some point, a further rise is going to force job cuts and that this point is not far off."

Seamus Halton, owner, the Close Nursing and Residential Home, Burcot, Oxfordshire said:- "What world do they (TUC) live in. Should £6.00 per hour go through I will have to close my business."

A spokesman for Stationary Express, Edinburgh said:- "If the rise goes through we would have to consider closing our retail operation with the loss of six jobs. The pay differentials are disappearing and there is no one wanting to take on the management positions due to this. Who is going to guarantee the self employed get a wage? My staff get more than I do."

Audition marathon winds up

AFTER 29 days on the road to hear a record 763 children play, the National Children’s Orchestra 2004 audition tour has now come to an end. From Devon to Edinburgh via Kent and Manchester, the Director of Music Roger Clarkson and orchestra Founder Vivienne Price drove to hear every single child who applied. Now they have the unenviable job of choosing between so much talent!

If you missed your chance this time round, don’t worry. They've had a few days to recover so call the office on 01934 820 254 to see if they can fit you in. If you’re aged 7 to 13 and play an orchestral instrument, especially ones like the viola, trombone and percussion, they are always ready to hear more.

You can catch the 2004 Main and Under 13 Orchestras in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 19 December. For more information visit the RFH web site at:- www.rfh.org.uk 

HOSPITALITY RE-ASSURED WITH STENA LINE

LEADING ferry company, Stena Line has once again been recognized for surpassing the Hospitality Assured Standard for Service and Business Excellence on its Irish Sea routes to Ireland.

This is the fourth year in succession that Stena Line's Irish Sea routes have met the required standard and the first time that the company's recently acquired Fleetwood to Larne route, with three additional vessels, has been included.

Celebrating the news, Ian Jamieson, Stena Line's Route Operations Services Manager, said:- "Once again, we are delighted to receive this accreditation. Hospitality Assured is a long-term commitment to our customers and the most useful monitor for service excellence we have found. 

Coupled with our outstanding reliability throughout the year and our constant staff development and training programmes, this accreditation confirms Stena Line's commitment to bringing passengers exceptional service while continuing to be the number one choice for ferry passengers on the Irish Sea."

Age Concern liverpool to hold ‘EnERGY DAYs’

AGE
Concern Liverpool is to hold two Energy Days at its offices at 5 Sir Thomas Street, Liverpool L1 6BW on Wednesday 17 November and on Thursday 18 November from 10am to 4pm and every one is welcome.

The event is being held to give members of the public an opportunity to see if they can save money on their gas and electricity bills by finding out more about Age Concern Energy Services and all visitors who bring in their recent bills to this event to find out more and receive a quote will receive a free low energy light bulb to help reduce their electricity bill. 

Age Concern knows that energy customers are being offered a greater choice of supplier than ever before with more than 20 suppliers in the UK currently offering a huge variety of services at differing prices. However, the National Audit Office has stated that six out of ten consumers are paying up to 22 per cent more for their gas and electricity than they would if they switched supplier. 

Michael Abrey-Bugg, Business Development Manager, Age Concern Enterprises comments:- “Visitors to Age Concern Liverpool’s Energy Day will find our prices competitive with other suppliers. For example, if you currently buy your gas and electricity from British Gas, we could save you £124 a year which is particularly important for older customers.”

Phil Hughes of Age Concern Liverpool said:- “There is no reason for anyone to feel trapped into their current energy deal and switching to a better value energy provider is not as difficult as people may think. Age Concern offers its own energy package, specifically designed to meet the needs of the older person. Most importantly our package also offers the face-to-face service and advice that we know to be so important to our Age Concern customers. Even when Age Concern Energy Services customers need to contact the customer service centre directly their call is free and they can talk to a real person 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” 

To find out more about the Age Concern Energy Day, please call the Age Concern Liverpool team on 0151 330 5555.

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