British Retail Consortium (BRC)chairman Luke Mayhew has urged the Government to set out a vision of better times and shift public debate away from spending cuts.

“The national agenda has to move on from cuts and public sector inefficiencies as quickly as possible,” Mayhew said on Wednesday at the BRC annual dinner.

Bureaucracy must be cut to enable business to thrive and create jobs but there is not enough evidence yet that this is at the heart of the Government’s agenda, Mayhew told business minister Mark Prisk.

He said: “What also concerns me is the collateral damage to the private sector if the Government does not, at the same time, tackle the deficit, actively encourage enterprise and push back the bureaucratic creep, which has pervaded nearly everything we do.”

Mayhew continued: “Retailers know only too well what managing to a budget means - we know what having to say ‘no’ is like and we can understand the very difficult decisions you are having to make.

“But we also know that you do not foster success, growth and employment by adding more and more rules. And that when making cuts you have to give people a vision of better times after the pain.”

Mayhew said that retailers were pleased by the Government’s commitment to a ‘one in, one out’ approach to curbing regulation but remain concerned about the extent of red tape that persists.

He pointed out: “The almost simultaneous announcement on the grocery adjudicator leaves doubts as to whether the slogan

can be turned into reality and the knee-jerk reaction of politicians and civil servants to regulate really can be controlled.”

Looming business rate rises threaten the ability of retailers to create jobs, the BRC also warned this week. The organisation has written to the Government asking that an alternative to the September Retail Price Index figure is used to calculate next year’s increases in business rates. Some retailers could face increases of 22% next April, the BRC warned.