Business chiefs doubtful on wage pledge

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Business leaders said today they were unimpressed by Labour’s promise to raise the minimum wage.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, was speaking after Ed Balls’ speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester.

Mr Cridland said the body was pleased by the shadow chancellor’s commitment to fiscal discipline.

He said any future Government would have to balance the books.

But he hit out at the minimum wage pledge outlined to the party faithful in the north west.

Mr Cridland said: “Having served as a commissioner on the Low Pay Commission which introduced the minimum wage, I am extremely disappointed by attempts to politicise the body.

“Setting the minimum wage should be left to independent experts at the Low Pay Commission.

“Attempting to fix future levels now is finger-in-the-air economics which takes no account of the economic realities at that time, nor the ability of firms to pay.”

Mr Cridland added: “On Europe, we are clear that we need to be at the heart of a reformed EU as it remains the UK’s biggest export market.

“Labour’s recognition that access to the single market is critical to protecting jobs and growth in the UK will therefore hearten business.

“With exports lagging, Labour’s review should focus on what our competitors are doing right and how we learn from them to give British firms a leg-up.

“The UK is suffering from a chronic shortage of housing and though the commitment to build more homes is laudable, we need to see more flesh on the bones of Labour’s delivery plan.”