RGDATA urge Tanaiste to halt business cost rises

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Tara Buckley

A group representing Irish retailers has urged Tanaiste to halt a spate of increases in business costs.

The meeting between RGData and and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Frances Fitzgerald followed a recommendation by the Low Pay Commission to increase the minimum wage by 30c an hour would, benefiting up to 150,000 workers.

The increase brings the minimum wage to €9.55 an hour.

Speaking after the meeting, RGData’s director General Tara Buckley said: “Independent retailers are facing significant cost increases due to Government policy.

“There is the proposed 27% increase in the PSO Levy; a recommendation to increase the Minimum Wage by 30 cent; significant increases in commercial rates in some areas and proposals to reduce plastics that all have significant cost implications for independent shops.”

It is the third successive year the Government has increased the National Minimum Wage (NMW), with the latest rise effective from 1 January 2018.

Hardware Association Ireland CEO Annemarie Harte also commented, saying: “Again, this will hit SMEs hardest, the backbone of our economy, a third consecutive uncontrollable increase in costs.

“It also has a knock-on effect of other employees looking for wage increases and of course treathens job creation.”

Ms Harte added that the uncertainties of Brexit and slowdown in consumer spending meant small businesses needed to be prepare for the impacts of the unknown.

“Instead they will have the absolute certainty of an increase in costs, amounting to a hike of 10.4% since 2015,” she said.

Ibec group Retail Ireland also blasted the rise. Its director Thomas Burke said: “With little to no inflation in consumer goods and growing concern over the impact Brexit is already having on the retail sector, there is absolutely no economic basis for a further increase to minimum wages.”

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