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CBI concerned about Labour's minimum wage plans

Labour's proposed increase in the minimum wage to £8 per hour by 2020 would place a strain on business and put jobs at risk, according to Confederation of British Industry (CBI) deputy director-general Katja Hall.

Hall was reacting to an announcement made by Labour leader Ed Miliband that the minimum wage would increase by £1.50 an hour under a Labour government. This would amount to an average annual increase of £3,000 per year for the lowest paid workers.

Miliband claimed the move is a way to reward the "wealth creators" at all levels of employment and dispel the perception that politicians "don't care about them".

But Hall replied that the minimum wage is currently at the "highest rate it can be" without putting job creation at risk.

"Raising wages in this way would put serious strain on businesses, particularly hard-pressed smaller firms with tight margins, which would end up employing fewer people," she said.

"Instead, politicians should address how people move on in their careers, through training and better skills, helping them move to higher paying roles over time."

Miliband denied that a higher minimum wage would negatively affect the economy, saying money would be saved through fewer in-work claimants of benefits.

"What is happening at the moment is that we are spending billions of pounds subsidising employers that are paying low wages, by spending billions of pounds in tax credits and housing benefits," he said.

"It is going to have no cost at all to the public sector, and it is the government's own figures that say that."