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Budget 2014: the industry wishlist

The retail business world has spelled out what it hopes to see in tomorrow’s budget, and business rates are top of the agenda.

Drapers talked to the key trade bodies shaping the sector about what they’d like to get from Number 11 Downing Street.

On rates…

BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM

There is broad consensus that the business rates system is woefully out of date. The current system disincentivises investment in property and this has had a seriously detrimental impact on our town centres and high streets, and restricted consumer choice. In the 2013 Autumn Statement we were delighted to see the Chancellor’s announcement of a Spring discussion paper on business rates. The very welcome measures of the 2% cap, discounts and help for smaller businesses will also provide support in the short term.

We have identified several shortlisted ideas. The driving principle behind the first three options is that they drive economically beneficial behaviours for the UK economy – encouraging energy efficiency, rewarding employment and fairly balancing the business tax burden. They all work within existing frameworks.

CBI

The review of the business rates system must produce recommendations to reduce the burden that the current system presents. In addition, over the longer term the government must build on recent good progress made to reduce National Insurance contributions when improved public finances permit, in order to support job creation.

BRITISH COUNCIL FOR SHOPPING CENTRES

Thanks to the government for its support on business rates thus far, but there is more to do, for budget 2014 and beyond. Give us proper business rates reform, and more transparency around how rates are calculated.

FORUM FOR PRIVATE BUSINESS

We want a firm commitment to carry out a fundamental review of business rates.

On reliefs…

BRITISH INDEPENDENT RETAILERS ASSOCIATION

Building on the autumn statement, we’d like to see a renewal of the small business rates relief, and we’d like to see the additional £1,000 discount on rates below £50,000 made automatic so that you don’t have to apply for it. Likewise with national insurance contribution discounts. Small businesses need certainty about future costs.  

On the recovery…

BRITISH INDEPENDENT RETAILERS ASSOCIATION

The government is concerned about productivity. They are concerned about whether productivity is real, and what is putting money into the economy. These things go together. Footfall was down again in February, so it is certainly tentative.

On personal tax…

BRITISH INDEPENDENT RETAILERS ASSOCIATION

We’d like to see a bigger personal allowance before you starting paying tax, up to £10,000. However, we wouldn’t want the government then pulling more people in to the 40% tax bracket by stealth in order to plug the gap.

On sales…

BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM

Consolidate and simplify age-restricted sales legislation: this will enable the Government to deliver on its promise at the end of the first phase of the Growth Review. Like the Consumer Rights Bill, which we strongly support, this would simplify, modernise and provide clarity for businesses and consumers alike, without undermining the goals of this legislation.

On the high street…

BRITISH COUNCIL FOR SHOPPING CENTRES

Retail growth creates happy, sustainable places so recognise town centres as critical national infrastructure. Empower councils to be more ambitious.

On the minimum wage…

FORUM FOR PRIVATE BUSINESS

We want a guarantee that any rise in the minimum wage will not be above inflation.

On long-termism…

BRITISH COUNCIL FOR SHOPPING CENTRES

Be consistent. Encourage long-term investment in green growth.

On global retailing…

BRITISH RETAIL CONSORTIUM

The budget should tackle restrictions on cross-border retail. The government can remain vigilant against proposed restrictions on cross-border retailing, ensuring proposed measures are addressed through the current round of bilateral trade negotiations or through mechanisms such as the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and/or the EU’s Market Access Advisory Committee.

We recognise that challenging proposed measures in other countries can be a resource-intensive activity and therefore we would encourage the Government to ensure that appropriate levels of funding and resource are committed to pursuing this work vigorously.

On goods…

CBI

To successfully rebalance our economy we need to give businesses a leg up to invest in new equipment, and sell more of their goods and services around the world.

On smaller retailers…

CBI

Small and medium-sized businesses must be able to access the right type of finance in order to grow. Credit supply and demand is improving in line with the recovery, but a structural inhibitors remain in the UK finance market. Action is needed to remove three of these barriers.  One example of a reform which could encourage longer-term investment horizons and tap the underutilized retail investment market would be to provide relief for investing in individual equity holdings after 5 years.

 

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