The Government may freeze the minimum wage this year in a bid to support employers and protect jobs.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) submitted evidence to the Low Pay Commission, - which recommends minimum wage rates – signalling a strong consideration of a freeze. It said increasing the minimum wage made employers reluctant to hire.

Minimum wage rates currently stand at £6.08 per hour for adults, £4.98 for those aged 18-20 and £3.68 for workers aged 16-17.

Retailers are one of the largest employers of young people in the UK and British Retail Consortium has long campaigned for a more conservative approach to raising the minimum wage to encourage job creation.

In the evidence, BIS said that due to the difficult economic conditions the commission should “consider concentrating their attention on the effect of a rise in the adult national minimum wage on employment”.

Referring to young people’s wages, it added that the commission should be “cautious and moderate in recommending national minimum wage rates”.

The Low Pay Commission sent its report to the Government last week and an announcement is expected to be made in the Chancellor’s Budget speech on March 21.