British Retail Consortium chairman Luke Mayhew has warned that the Government risks causing “collateral damage” to business unless it encourages enterprise and cuts red tape as well as making cuts.

In comments directed at business minister Mark Prisk at last night’s British Retail Consortium annual dinner, Mayhew pointed out that retailers are employing thousands more people than they did a year ago and the industry is “one of the economy’s best vehicles for new jobs and growth”.

Mayhew said: “The probable reductions in public sector jobs and services will be tough for many of our customers… but what also concerns me is the potential collateral damage to the private sector if the Government does not, at the same time as tackling the deficit, actively encourage enterprise and push back the bureaucratic creep which has pervaded nearly everything we do.”

He said there is not enough evidence so far that an environment “that encourages private sector investment and growth” is being created.