The British Independent Retail Association (bira) has called on all political parties to pledge their support for independent retailers ahead of the general election next month.
The association has highlighted on its website key manifesto pledges which political parties should commit to if they want small shops to vote for them.
“It was a comfort to the sector when the Department for Communities and Local Government Minister Marcus Jones said that the UK needed ‘thriving high streets, strong independent retailers and local economies that match the exceptional growth that UK plc has experienced since 2010’,” bira said.
“However, this needs to be followed up with clear action if small businesses are to support the current administration through this election.”
bira said the political parties’ first priority for independent retailers should be to commit to implementing a business rates threshold.
“This would not only benefit businesses but would also mean that the Government would not have to spend valuable time rolling out schemes like the £300m discretionary fund, which will have minimal effect overall,” the association said.
bira also urged political parties to carry out a “serious review” regarding parking.
“Of course, bira is pleased that the DCLG supported the Private Member’s Bill by Conservative MP David Tredinnick to make it easier for English Councils to lower parking charges at short notice and that the Council will only be able to increase the fees after consultation,” it said.
“However, this did not deal with the more strategic issues around how better implementation of parking provision could also help increase footfall for local businesses.”
bira explained that it doesn’t believe that minimum wage and living wage rates should be used as a bargaining tool to gain votes at the expense of hard working entrepreneurs and independent businesses.
It therefore encourages all parties to allow the Low Pay Commission to lead an independent process of setting wage rates so that workers are rewarded and businesses continue to succeed.
Finally, bira wants to impress on all political parties that stability for this sector is needed.
“After all, whilst the retail sector currently accounts for 5.7% of gross domestic product, this is not guaranteed to continue in the future unless an incoming Government helps ensure that Britain will not be hit with a stalling economy, rising prices and a weak pound sterling, by doing all they can to help businesses and entrepreneurs thrive.”