The boss of a North East investment firm has backed the Chancellor’s calls for a rise in the minimum wage to £7 an hour.
Jeremy Middleton, who runs the Newcastle-based £50m fund Middleton Enterprises, said rising prices for household items combined with the wage-freezing effect of the recession, had resulted in “a very real and very difficult squeeze on the household budgets of ordinary working people”.
A rise to £7 – provided this figure is calibrated properly by economists – could help low-paid workers benefit from the economic recovery without hindering growth of business, he suggested.
“The Chancellor has said he’d like to see those earning the lowest wages have their incomes return to the same value as before the recession – and this is not only commendable, but fair,” Middleton said.
“It’s socially conscious and by ensuring low wages rise at a higher rate than benefits, will reward and incentivise working families.
“While I understand concerns that higher wages are ‘risky’ and could lead to job cuts, provided any rise will be carefully calibrated on the advice of independent body the Low Pay Commission.
“I believe that low-paid workers can also enjoy the fruits of economic recovery without employers being hindered or jobs being affected.
“In fact, a rise in the minimum wage would go some way to addressing the rising cost of living for hard-working people, which has become out of kilter during the economic downturn, with household incomes being increasingly stretched.”