New minimum wage will help Sheffield businesses to ‘invest in people’

The new minimum wage will help Sheffield’s small enterprises to ‘invest in people’, according to business owners.

From today, workers aged 25 and over on the national minimum wage will receive £8.21 an hour, up from £7.83 previously.

Several of Sheffield’s shops, such as The Alternative Store on Devonshire Street, employ small numbers of people and already pay all their staff above minimum wage.

Others, like Freshman’s Vintage on Carver Street, will be affected by today’s changes.

Louisa Froggatt, the shop’s owner, welcomed the rises, explaining she felt the minimum wage had been too low for some time.

She said: “As an independent, we do hand-pick members of staff, so we don’t have a big turnover of employees.

“We invest in people, so it’s quite a good thing, just giving them something back and raising their income.”

But Louisa, 45, felt the timing could have been better, explaining small businesses such as hers have recently taken hits as a result of the current Brexit chaos.

She said: “It’s kind of knocked us a little bit I feel, because we do import and export as well, and that can all have a knock-on effect.”

Meanwhile, Casey Bottom, a level three apprentice at Plantology on Division Street, will see her pay bumped up by the new rises.

Rather than being paid the £3.70 apprentice wage, Casey makes £5.90 an hour, the standard minimum wage for a 20-year-old.

She said: “I’m now on the minimum for my age and obviously it’s going up, which is brilliant, but I understand that it’s also restrictive on business owners and things like that.”

But raising the minimum wage won’t solve all the problems relating to underpaid workers, according to Casey.

Apprenticeship wages are often far lower than the national minimum wage, and can discourage people from pursuing them.

“I don’t think there are enough incentives or backing for apprenticeships to encourage young people to go into them.

“If there was more money put into it, a bit like how university students are given loans and things, more people would be incentivised to go into labouring jobs like apprenticeships too.”