The British Retail Consortium is calling for action to support consumer spending and help encourage private sector investment in the upcoming Budget.
The BRC has proposed a series of targeted measures to support and protect the retail industry in a period of “profound change and uncertainty”.
The recommendations include freezing the business rates multiplier in April 2018 – it would otherwise increase the bill of every rate payer in the country and divert £270m of retail investment; keeping the cost of living down for consumers by not increasing income tax rates; giving flexibility in how Apprenticeship Levy funds can be spent; and increasing the basic digital literacy skills of the large parts of the workforce.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “At a time of uncertainty for both the economy and the country, it’s important we set ourselves up for success. The cumulative burden of government-imposed costs has become acute. Indeed, September’s inflation figures mean retailers are faced with a £270m leap in their business rate tax bills alone next spring. With retailers’ margins being squeezed to their limit, this is money that could be better spent investing in keeping prices low for consumers, in local communities up and down the country and in developing a workforce which is fit for the future.”
She added: “Retailers want to help build the confidence of their customers, not damage it. But to do this they need the support of government policy that keeps down the cost of living, not exacerbates it.”
The budget will be unveiled on 22 November.