BRC responds to Conservative election manifesto

BRC responds to the Conservative’s Manifesto
Boris Johnson vows to "Get Brexit Done" in new Conservative manifesto
// BRC welcomes the Conservative party’s pledge for a review of business rates
// Boris Johnson says Conservatives will “Get Brexit Done” by January 31
// BRC warns a strict immigration policy will have damaging effects on retail’s workforce

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed the Conservative’s pledge to review the business rates system as part of its new election manifesto.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the consortium “welcome the commitment to review our broken business rates system, which holds back investment and accelerates job losses and store closures across the country”:

“Currently, retail accounts for 5 per cent of the economy, yet pays 10 per cent of all business taxes and 25 per cent of business rates. To solve this, retailers welcome the calls to reduce business rates levied on retail business, but it is vital that this is applied to retailers of all sizes, including larger businesses, otherwise the benefit to our high streets and town centres will be limited,” Dickinson argued.

READ MORE: Labour proposes landlord tax as part of business rates review

“Proposed cuts to National Insurance contributions are also welcomed as part of the need to bring down the business tax burden. The next Government should reduce the tax burden further, through business rates reforms including scrapping ‘downwards transition’, which costs retailers £1.3 billon over five years, and introducing an ‘improvement relief’ to boost investment in retail locations.”

As part of their election manifesto launched on Sunday, the Conservatives proposed a review of business rates, pledging to halve the rates smaller pubs, shops and cinemas pay.

On Brexit, the BRC applauded the Conservatives’ stance to deliver Brexit by January 31.

“We welcome the commitment to end the Brexit uncertainty at the earliest opportunity. However, it is essential that politicians commit to a future of frictionless, tariff-free trade to protect consumers from higher costs and less availability of everyday essentials,” said Dickinson.

Similarly, the BRC warned that the Conversative’s promise for “fewer lower-skilled migrants” and reduction in immigration could have a damaging effect on the retail industry.

“As the largest private sector employer in the UK, it is critically important that any future immigration system is viable. We need a demand-led system which ensures that retail, and all its complex supply chains, are able to access workers of all skill levels in sufficient numbers.”

Last week the BRC responded to Labour’s election manifesto which outlined a plan to turn around the decline of the high street which includes looking at a “land value tax” on commercial landlords, as well as developing a new “retail sector industrial strategy”.

“We welcome the Labour Party’s manifesto commitment to a retail industrial strategy,” Dickinson said of Labour’s pledges under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

“From sustainability to business taxes to skills, it is vital that there is joined up thinking across government to ensure that retailers do not face an unsustainable burden of cumulative costs.”

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