West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has today stated that the cost of rising wages remains a significant issue for businesses, despite a slight decline in pay growth.

Growth in wages slowed again in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, with the jobs market still outpacing price rises.

Pay growth, excluding bonuses, fell from 7.3 per cent to 6.6 per cent in the three months to November.

Mark Casci, head of policy at the Chamber, said: “The labour market is in the midst of a slowdown. The latest figures show that the number of vacancies has now dropped for the 18th time in a row.

“However, as our latest Quarterly Economic Survey figures have shown, wage growth remains one of the most significant external factors impacting businesses in our region.”

Jane Gratton, deputy director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said: “Today’s data confirms labour market conditions are continuing to cool, with wage growth and the number of vacancies falling once again. However, labour costs remain a huge pressure on businesses dealing with a challenging economic environment.

“Too many firms are still struggling to hire and retain staff. Our latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook, showed over three quarters of firms attempting to recruit faced difficulties.

“The skills crisis continues to cast a shadow over the labour market. To help tackle the problem, we need a more flexible apprenticeship levy, access to rapid upskilling and reskilling opportunities, and a long-term commitment to Local Skills Improvement Plans across England.

“Businesses will be looking closely at the upcoming Budget for help to plug skills gaps and get more people into work.”