A group of trade associations representing the interests of over 388,000 businesses employing around 4.5 million people, have written to the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark, urging caution over planned increases in the National Living Wage in the next four years.

In the letter, the group raises concerns that the current plan for increases in the National Living Wage will damage employment prospects in a wide range of sectors, and calls for the Low Pay Commission to be handed back the power to objectively assess the impact of wage rates on businesses.

The letter also called on the Secretary of State to create a new steering group to allow businesses to talk to government about the impact of the Living Wage.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “The Low Pay Commission should regain its powers to recommend all minimum pay rates based on economic circumstances and the needs of both employers and employees, instead of having to work to targets set by politicians.

“Retailers and other businesses are already delaying investment plans and having to make difficult decisions about the staff they employ as a result of the introduction of the National Living Wage in April.”

The letter was signed by:

• The Association of Convenience Stores

• Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

• British Beer and Pub Association

• British Holiday & Home Parks Association

• Care England

• Charity Finance Group

• Federation of Small Businesses

• Federation of Wholesale Distributors

• Forum of Private Business

• Glass and Glazing Federation

• Mental Health Providers Forum

• National Care Forum

• National Day Nurseries Association

• National Farmers Union

• National Federation of Meat and Food Traders

• National Federation of Retail Newsagents

• Rural Shops Alliance

• Textile Recycling Association