The BRC has urged Chancellor George Osbourne to shield retailers from further cost increases in the Budget in order to protect new jobs.

Proposals include 18 months notice of national minimum wage increases, rather than the current six months. It also petitions the government to keep this October’s minimum price increase to less than 1.7%.

The trade body said retailers are already absorbing £670m of extra costs through last year’s 2.2% national minimum wage increase, business rate hikes and the VAT rise. It warns that extra costs would hinder the sector’s ability to invest in new jobs.

It also proposes that business rates increases should fall in line with the consumer price index or a year-average of the retail price index.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “Our absolute priority is to be at the centre of the recovery - to be able to go on maintaining and creating jobs. Retail already employs one million young people starting their careers, and we’d like to be able to take on more.”

He added: “The sector, which operates on slim margins, is already seeing its load increase sharply. New impositions can only hinder retail’s ability to invest.”

Other proposals include keeping transport costs down by suspending the fuel duty increase which is due in April, minimising the bureaucracy in apprenticeships and urging the government not to complicate employment legislation until growth is back on track.