Government must ‘play its part’ to support retail sector, says BRC

The incoming government must take action to fully support to the retail sector, the BRC has urged in its latest manifesto. 

The publication, entitled ‘A Vision for the UK Retail Industry’, calls for relief and reform of the industry as it navigates changes driven by new technology and changing consumer behaviour.

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 The manifesto highlights three key points that the new government must implement if it is to “play its part” in strengthening and supporting the industry through these changes.

The first point outlined is to relieve the burden of business rates by scrapping “downwards transition”. Such rates take £1.3bn away from retailers every five years, and should instead be “invested in growth, skills and innovation”, claims the BRC. 

They also call for a reform of the Apprenticeship Levy, which would allow more leverage to invest in other accredited training programmes. The final key outline is to bring forward legislation to safeguard workers who are threatened and attacked in their workplace. 

It added that these key points “must be recognised” if the new government is to protect the ‘dynamic and diverse’ industry, which accounts for 5% of the UK economy and generates £98.4bn. As well as contributing £17bn in taxes, the industry also employs 3 million people. 

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “‘A Vision for The UK Retail Industry’ offers a path to empowering our shops, our shopworkers and our communities. Political parties should grasp this chance for reform. 

“The General Election is a unique opportunity to address many of the imbalances that are adversely affecting retailers. Imbalances that have led to job losses and store closures up and down the country.”

 She added: “Fixing the broken business rates system and reforming the Apprenticeship Levy would help unlock the necessary investment into skills, stores and online necessary to allow retail to thrive.”

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