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Why venues will struggle to afford new Living Wage

Many venues will struggle to pay National Living Wage to be introduced next month, says Lane End Conference Centre

Pictured: Lane End Conference Centre

Venues are facing a struggle to pay the new National Living Wage according to Lane End Conference Centre.

The introduction of  the government’s new National Living Wage next month means that meeting and event venues are going to have to dig deep – leaving many in a difficult position, according to Mike Gough, operations director at the Buckinghamshire conference and meeting centre. Lane End will be paying the government's new rate of £7.20 per hour for over 25s, but is currently not be able to pay the Living Wage Foundation's Living Wage rate of £8.25 per hour.

Gough said: “We fully support the government’s introduction of both workplace pensions and increasing the living wage. We think it is a great initiative and believe that by looking after our employees we are indirectly looking after our customers. 

“Having said that, as a small independent venue, we always need to consider the profitability and survival of our organisation for the benefit of our customers as well as our employees. Therefore, although we support these initiatives, we need to make gradual changes to ensure we secure the survival of our organisation and also maintain a happy, secure and satisfied workforce. 

“Many venues, particularly small independents, have struggled to cope with the recent recessions and have been hit hard by the decline in demand. Those venues now have to dig deep to fund the changes and I can see some venues between a rock and a hard place in terms of price rises and/or a drop in staffing levels and therefore standards. Further diluting of core focus is also likely as venues look for every available revenue stream.” 

The government’s compulsory National Living Wage is set to be introduced in April, set at £7.20 per hour for all working people aged 25 and over. This will be over and above the National Minimum Wage which will remain in place for those aged under 25.

Last year, M&IT teamed up with the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) to launch the Living Wage for Live Events campaign to persuade event buyers and policy makers to encourage the industry as a whole to pay a Living Wage. 

The Living Wage Foundation has calculated the acceptable standard of living to be £9.40 per hour in London and £8.25 per hour for the rest of the UK. Currently, up to 90 per cent of workers in the hospitality sector live below that rate.

Gough added: “Here at Lane End we have remained focused on our core business and have fortunately been fairly stable through the recessions. We have carefully planned our strategy for meeting the changes - and are therefore confident that we will be able to do so without resorting to either the rock or the hard place.

“We will be paying the new minimum Living Wage as suggested by the government. However, we will not at this stage be able to reach to the Living Wage Foundation’s suggested minimum Living Wage.”

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