Pub giant JD Wetherspoon became the latest firm to warn over Government plans to boost wages for low-paid workers as it claimed the living wage would add "considerable uncertainty" to the under-pressure sector.
Wetherspoon chairman, Belfast man Tim Martin, hit out at "capricious" Government initiatives after Chancellor George Osborne last week unveiled a compulsory living wage of £7.20 an hour for over-25s from April next year, rising to £9 by 2020.
Mr Martin said the summer Budget plans would see pubs put at an even greater disadvantage compared with supermarkets, as the industry already shoulders significant staff costs.
Staff costs make up around 25% of every pint sold for an average of £3 in pubs, according to Wetherspoon.
Mr Martin warned: "The recent Government announcement regarding the living wage adds considerable uncertainty to future financial projections in the pub industry."
Wetherspoon is currently in the process of opening up two new pubs in Belfast, including one in the city centre and another in south Belfast.