Yesterday’s “dressed down” Queen’s Speech spelled good news for the UK retail industry, according to the British Retail Consortium’s Helen Dickinson.
Eight of the 27 proposed bills and draft bills were centered around tackling Brexit, including customs, trade and immigration.
Dickinson believes it’s “right to focus on Brexit” and praised the speech for aiming to communicate to businesses.
“In very uncertain times, retailers will be encouraged that the government is seeking to reach out to business,” the BRC chief executive said.
“It’s right to focus on Brexit. The retail industry’s biggest priority is to work alongside the government to secure a fair Brexit for consumers.
“This means ensuring that ordinary shoppers aren’t hit with the cost of unwanted new tariffs and the UK is able to build new trading relationships with the rest of the world in the long-term.
“In particular, we will seek to work with the government on the new Trade Bill, which will help in the development of international trade relationships and the Immigration Bill.
“Employers throughout retail must be able to secure their current workforce and fill vacancies in the future. To do this, the government must secure the rights of EU nationals living and working in the UK at the earliest possible opportunity during the withdrawal negotiations with the EU.
“We will also seek to work with government to design a new immigration policy that balances the need to control numbers with businesses’ requirements for non-graduate labour to fill vacancies.”
— BRC (@the_brc) June 21, 2017
Notably promises to reform the recent changes to the “broken” business rates system was left out of the speech, but Dickinson argues this must take priority to ensure a level playing field in the years to come.
“At the last General Election, all three political parties committed to fixing the broken business rates system and this has the strong support of the industry,” she said.
“Although this wasn’t a part of the Queen’s Speech, it is essential that the government conducts a full review of the business rates system and puts in place a system for the 21st century that does not pit online against offline or large against small.
“We will seek to work with the government to look again at the Business Tax Road Map to ensure fairness and incentivise growth and investment.”