Business leaders have today warned of the “challenges” faced by bosses on the Fylde coast when the minimum wage goes up next year.
The latest figures show an estimated 33,000 people across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre earn below the recommended national living wage, currently £7.85 an hour.
More than a third of workers in Blackpool fall below the threshold, meaning resort businesses are set to be among the hardest hit in the country when the minimum wage rises to £7.20 in April.
Paul Foster, development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “The introduction of the new National Living Wage will pose some problems for small businesses, particularly those in sectors such as social care, hospitality and retail where margins are already tight.
“Employers will have to consider whether they absorb the costs, increase their prices, or forego recruiting that next employee and expect the existing workforce to be more productive. What is clear is that this is going to be a challenging change to manage and that employers must take advice to make sure they get it right.”
Blackpool has an estimated 17,000 people, 36 per cent, working for less than the living wage, which is set by the independent Living Wage Foundation.
Fylde has 9,000 people, 18 per cent, and Wyre has 7,000, 32.8 per cent, people earning less than £7.85 an hour.
Hugh Evans, from the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The challenge is to raise the skill level in Blackpool and so raise the wage rates that people can achieve. What we don’t want is to create lots of highly skilled jobs and find Blackpool doesn’t have the people to do them.”
The Government’s National Living Wage, which comes into force in April, will start at £7.20 and is not linked to the recommendations of the Living Wage Foundation.