The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is calling on Chancellor Philip Hammond to support customer spending and help encourage private sector investment in the upcoming Budget.
In a submission entitled Helping Shoppers Budget, sent to the Chancellor last week, the BRC proposes a series of targeted measures to support the retail industry in maximising its future contribution to the UK’s success and playing its part in supporting the country through a period of “profound change and uncertainty”.
Specifically, the BRC is recommending that the UK government freezes the business rates multiplier in April 2018 – which would otherwise increase the bill of every rate payer in the country and simultaneously divert £270m of retail investment from delivering for consumers and away from local investment.
The trade body has also urged the government to keep the cost of living down for consumers by not increasing income tax rates for the majority of taxpayers, and consider accelerating increases in the personal allowance if the squeeze on consumers persists.
In addition, it recommends that the government works in partnership with retail to enhance the basic digital literacy skills of the large parts of the workforce being left behind by the technology revolution and ensure business does not face double regulatory charges or new financial burdens from the EU withdrawal.
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.
“September’s inflation figures mean retailers are faced with a £270 million 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.
“Without the Chancellor’s intervention, the consequences for town centres and jobs will be even more keenly felt in the most vulnerable communities. For consumers, the squeeze on household incomes will be compounded as the pound in their pocket buys them even less at the checkout.”
The first Budget following the general election will be delivered on 22 November.