The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne should use any extra money the government finds itself with to hold back next April’s business rate rise in order to support the retail industry, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Director General of the organisation, Stephen Robertson, said that by doing this and removing the £1 billion “carbon reduction stealth tax” he placed on UK commerce, Osborne would give retail the chance to create jobs and boost the economy.
His comments followed yesterday’s autumn statement from the Office for Budget Responsibility, which raised the UK’s 2010 growth forecast from the 1.2 per cent reported in June to 1.8 per cent, and predicted there will be fewer public sector job cuts then previously announced.
It is now expected that 330,000 public sector jobs will be lost over the next four years, rather than the 490,000 cuts forecast after the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review in October.
Additionally, public sector net borrowing is set to reach £148.5 billion in the current financial year, which represents ten per cent of gross domestic product and is £1 billion down on previous estimates.
Robertson said: “In real terms, retail sales have been down year-on-year every month since June.
“Consumer confidence continues to fall. People’s worries about job prospects and personal finances are mounting. The, very necessary, public sector cuts together with January’s VAT rise have still to hit.
“The Chancellor should use his, better than expected, position as an opportunity to ease tax burdens on businesses and householders and get back to the 80:20 balance between cuts/taxation he promised.”