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BRC calls on the Chancellor to support the UK retail industry's future

Laura  Barnes
BRC calls on the Chancellor to support the UK retail industry's future

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has sent a submission to the Chancellor, calling for the upcoming Budget to support the retail industry’s future and help shoppers by keeping the cost of living down.

In the submission, entitled Helping Shoppers Budget, the BRC proposes a series of targeted measures to support the retail industry in maximising its future contribution to the UK’s success and playing its part in supporting the country “through a period of profound change and uncertainty”.

“Retail is one of the world’s most innovative industries, the UK’s largest private sector employer and an industry which is finding efficiencies at a faster rate than many others – which in Government speak means it’s outpacing average productivity growth in the UK,” said the BRC. “It is also an industry undergoing profound structural change, being driven by the ever increasing demands of customers and the technology revolution.”

The BRC is recommending that the UK Government does the following:
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– Freezes the business rates multiplier in April 2018 which otherwise will increase the bill of every rate payer in the country and simultaneously divert £270m of retail investment from delivering for consumers and away from local investment.

– Keeps the cost of living down for consumers by not increasing income tax rates for the majority of taxpayers and considers accelerating increases in the personal allowance if the squeeze on consumers persists.

– Gives itself the best chance of ensuring its flagship apprenticeship policy is successful by providing additional flexibility in how apprenticeship levy funds can be spent.

– Works in partnership with retail to enhance the basic digital literacy skills of the large parts of the workforce being left behind by the technology revolution and to increase the amount of UK manufacturing of textiles and clothing.

– Ensures business does not face double regulatory charges or new financial burdens from the Withdrawal Bill and makes the necessary investment in infrastructure at ports and border control points to ensure an orderly exit from the EU.

“At a time of uncertainty for both the economy and the country, it’s important we set ourselves up for success,” said Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC. “The cumulative burden of Government imposed costs has become acute. Indeed, September’s inflation figures mean retailers are faced with a £270 million leap in their business rate tax bills alone next Spring. With retailers’ margins being squeezed to their limit, this is money that could be better spent investing in keeping prices low for consumers, in local communities up and down the country and in developing a workforce which is fit for the future.

“Without the Chancellor’s intervention, the consequences for town centres and jobs will be even more keenly felt in the most vulnerable communities. For consumers, the squeeze on household incomes will be compounded as the pound in their pocket buys them even less at the checkout.

“Retailers want to help build the confidence of their customers, us all as shoppers, not damage it. But to do this they need the support of Government policy that keeps down the cost of living, not exacerbates it. That encourages, rather than deters the retail investment necessary to meet constantly evolving customer expectations. And finally, policy action that enables retailers to maximise their vital contribution to the Government’s productivity aspirations.”

You can read BRC’s Helping Shoppers Budget submission in full here.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, has announced the first Budget following the general election will be delivered on 22nd November 2017.

Tags: Retail , government , brc , Chancellor's budget

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