The British Retail Consortium has welcomed some aspects of the legislative programme set out in the Queen’s Speech but cautions that parts of it do not go far enough.
The speech confirmed that employers will not be hit with a National Insurance rise - dubbed a “jobs tax” by many retailers – that Labour had proposed.
BRC’s director general Stephen Robertson said: “Scaling back the planned National Insurance increase is a good start – though it could go further. Any increase in National Insurance is a tax on jobs and undermines retailers’ ability to maintain and create employment. Raising National Insurance will hamper retailers’ ability to maximise their contribution to the recovery.”
Robertson welcomed the creation of an Office for Budget Responsibility Bill, which is an independent body that will provide forecasts for economic growth and borrowing.
He said: “This should give greater trust in the projections for the nation’s finances and boost confidence in the Government’s plans to effectively deal with current economic difficulties.”
He added he would “look forward to examining the details” of the Decentralisation and Localism Bill.
He said: “Retail has the broadest possible geographical base and taking a more localised approach to decision making could be appropriate in many cases. But there needs to be safeguards to ensure the localism approach doesn’t undermine national businesses. Coping with hundreds of different regulatory regimes across the country could impose unnecessary costs and uncertainty.”
The British Council of Shopping Centres welcomed the speech, but warned the new coalition Government that “work needs to be done to safeguard the benefits of retail-led regeneration in towns and cities”.
The body also reiterated the need for “action on business rates to alleviate the cost burden on occupiers - which is stifling the recovery in many areas of retail property”.