The Government must implement measures which allow consumers and retailers alike to contribute to economic growth, according to a leading pressure group.
Ahead of next month’s Autumn Statement, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has submitted a plan to Chancellor George Osborne stating that his party must push through change and re-think existing measures such as business rate increases to strengthen the economy.
Retail CEOs have asked the BRC to freeze business rates next year as they have risen by more than 10 per cent in the last two years with suggestions of a rise of 2.6 per cent in April 2013, based on September’s Retail Price Index.
Such a hike would add more than £175 million to retailers’ bills at a time when commodity prices are also soaring.
Fuel duty is set to jump by 3 pence a litre from January and the BRC has called for this to be abandoned and well as asked that the national minimum wage rises remain affordable and do not exceed average earnings movements.
BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said: “The Chancellor should avoid distractions and diversions and focus on a small number of pro-growth measures that will really make a difference to customers, employees and businesses.
“Success is far more likely if the Government concentrates on delivering convincingly in half a dozen significant areas rather than trying to fight on a much broader range of fronts.”
On top of those points already outlined, the BRC is also asking for a one year National Insurance Contributions holiday for those hiring youngsters as well as calling for a reform to the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme, which must be simplified to reduce costs.
Last month, telecommunications firm Everything Everywhere rebranded as EE and announced that it will be the first service provider to launch superfast 4G network coverage and the BRC believes that the proceeds from the upcoming roll-out ought to be used to invest in high speed broadbad to aid the evolution of online retailing.
Earlier this month, the BRC found in its Retail Sales Monitor with KPMG that UK retail sales values dropped 0.1 per cent like-for-like in October as consumers avoided unnecessary spend amid ongoing economic difficulty and the group has now explained the strong importance of introducing measures to allay those fears.
Robertson explained: “Our six-point plan spells out retailers’ priorities for action that will maximise the sector’s contribution to economic recovery, through job creation, investment in communities and offering the best possible value to customers in these tough times.
“In particular, the Chancellor should not pile more pain onto struggling households or retailers by adding extra costs. He should scrap January’s planned fuel duty rise and freeze business rates next April.”