Almost a third of small and medium-sized businesses in Scotland plan to invest additional funds into hiring staff in the coming year despite concerns about the impact of the new national living wage.
Meanwhile, just under a quarter of Scottish SMEs will also pump more money into staff training, according to new research from the Clydesdale Bank.
However, more than half – 54 per cent – of smaller businesses believe the introduction of the national living wage in 2016 will lead to an increase in staff costs. Three in ten expect their salary costs to go up by as much as 10 per cent as a result of the move.
From April, employers will be required to pay all staff over the age of 25 a living wage of £7.20 an hour – a 50p increase on the current national minimum wage. By 2020 this will rise to £9 an hour.
In Scotland, 46 per cent of SMEs think the national living wage will have no impact on their salary costs at all.
Across the UK, the belief that salary costs will increase is most acutely felt in businesses with between 50 and 100 employees, suggesting larger enterprises – with more than 100 employees – may be able to absorb increased wage bills.
Alastair Christmas, regional director for business and private banking at Clydesdale Bank in Scotland, said: “We know businesses are investing in their most precious assets – their people.
“Having the right people and skills is a big issue for businesses to manage as our economy shifts from one of traditional manufacturing to being knowledge led.”