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Living wage 'could be devastating'

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INTRODUCING a living wage of up to £9.60 an hour by 2020 would be 'devastating' for the agricultural sector, the Economic Development Minister has said.

Senator Lyndon Farnham warned that small farms could close if the Chief Minister's plan to accelerate the introduction of a living wage was agreed.

He told a recent Economic Affairs Scrutiny Panel hearing that there were plans to introduce a £9.60 living wage by 2020.

Senator Farnham added that prices might have to increase for the sector to cope, or the States would have to increase subsidies.

Panel chairman Deputy Simon Brée asked if increasing subsidies was really an option given current the States spending limits. 'I don't disagree with you,' replied Senator Farnham.

Earlier this month a report was published into the economic impact of a living wage in Jersey. The Oxera report examined the impact of increasing the minimum wage to between 10 per cent and 17 per cent more than the 2017 rate of £7.18 per hour.

Senator Gorst said following the release of the report that there were 'positive and negative consequences, with many employees benefitting and potentially higher consumer spending, but potential job losses and lower incomes for some'.

He added that plans to introduce a living wage by 2026 were too slow and suggested 2020 as a target instead.

Asked about the living wage,Senator Farnham said: 'It's potentially devastating for the agricultural sector. I think there is some recognition that there would have to be an increase in pricing, closure of some smaller farms or increase subsidies. So there is concern.'

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