Belfast Telegraph

New wages deal won't have negative effect, claim firms

By John Mulgrew

Four-fifths of firms here do not think the introduction of a higher National Living Wage will impact negatively on their business.

That's according to the latest quarterly business monitor from InterTradeIreland.

It showed that 80% of companies here, except those in the hospitality industry, don't believe the £7.20 wage will hit their business hard.

Meanwhile, sales are growing faster in the Republic than in Northern Ireland.

The survey, which covers July to September, showed 41% of firms in the Republic are increasing sales, compared to 33% here.

And 12% of firms in the Republic were expanding their workforce, compared to 8% in Northern Ireland. Aidan Gough, from the cross-border business body, said the "divergence in performance is not unexpected and reflects structural differences in the two economies".

And he said an "economic upturn" was altering the type of challenges facing the business world.

"Normal business pressures are now at the fore of issues facing firms with cash flow at 11%, new competition, late payments and internal costs all at 9%.

"Concerns over energy costs have dropped from 15% this time last year to 6% and business costs in general have decreased though remain significant for manufacturing."

But he said bars, hotels and restaurants were "continuing to feel the strain of energy prices"

He said they were also "concerned about the impact of the National Living Wage next year".

Belfast Telegraph