Northern Ireland

More than one in 10 Northern Ireland employees 'can expect pay rise'

Money

More than one in 10 employees in Northern Ireland can expect a pay rise as a result of the National Living Wage (NLW), new research suggests.

The NLW will mean the minimum wage for over-25s across the UK will rise from £6.70 to £7.20 an hour in April.

The Nevin Economic Research Institute (Neri) used official wage data to calculate the impact in Northern Ireland.

The biggest impact is likely to be in the hospitality sector.

The research suggests that one-in-three employees are in line for a pay rise.

In both retail and residential care more than one-in-four employees can expect a pay rise.

Women and younger workers and are most likely to feel the benefit of the policy.

The Neri research only considers those who will automatically get a pay rise as a result of the NLW.

'Uncertainty'

The institute said that "many more workers above the NLW rate could see an increase in wages".

However, it adds that there is "uncertainty over the number who stand to gain and how large that gain would actually be".

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Media captionResearcher Paul McFlynn said low paid workers tend to spend more of their income

Those industries which face the biggest impacts have already warned of negatives consequences from the NLW.

Michael Fletcher, who runs the Barking Dog restaurant in south Belfast, said that across his sector businesses already run on tight margins and face significant fixed costs like rates.

"It's just going to be one more added pressure. I would say a swathe of businesses will close," he said.

'Significant boost'

However Neri researcher Paul McFlynn said it is possible that increased wages could have positive effects for some businesses as their customers will have greater spending power.

"An increase in wages like this will give a significant boost to the domestic economy and we would see some of that spend reflected in service industries," he said.

"Low paid workers tend to spend more of their incomes and they also tend to spend it more locally."

In October, the chief executive of Independent Health and Care Providers, told the BBC that some firms feared their businesses would no longer be viable as a result of the policy.

Pauline Sheppard said the NLW was a "positive" measure that would see care workers "recognised and rewarded".

"The difficulty is if it's not going to be funded through from the trusts and the Department of Health," she added.

The department said it was in discussion with the Health and Social Care Board about the financial impact of the National Living Wage on the delivery of services, including home care.

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