As the Autumn Statement looms, the Government and retail need to work together to increase productivity and improve prosperity

The Chancellor’s July budget might still be fresh in our minds but summer is rapidly coming to a close and it will soon be time for the Autumn Statement.

The British Retail Consortium has sent its submission to the treasury this week. It’s vital we feed into this process.

We now have a Government which, by its own declaration, wants the UK to be among the best places in the world to do business, with better regulation, lower business taxation and increased productivity all stated aims. These are welcome.

Smarter regulation

But Government needs to live up to its rhetoric, delivering smarter, leaner regulation, a system of business taxation that is fit for the 21st century and support to build a more productive workforce.

Only when these crucial steps are taken will British business be able to deliver on the Government’s promise of greater prosperity for everyone.

“From the vibrancy of our high streets to the cost of everyday essentials, retail is inextricably linked to the vitality of the British economy”

Helen Dickinson, BRC

No industry stands more ready to deliver that promise than retail. When retailers do well, Britain does well. From the vibrancy of our high streets to the cost of everyday essentials, retail is inextricably linked to the vitality of the British economy.

That’s because retailers are at the heart of the communities they serve, employing more people than any other private industry – and fierce competition between them delivers great products at great prices to UK households.

It’s clear that the retail industry has a vital role to play in order to succeed and bring greater prosperity to the UK. Meeting the challenges faced by the retail industry will be crucial to meeting the challenges in the wider economy.

Increase our productivity – the productivity of our employees and our businesses – and the entire nation benefits: higher wages, better products at lower prices, brands exported across the EU and the globe, higher tax revenue, and greater prosperity for everyone.

But how can this best be achieved?

Fundamental reform

We know that business taxation needs fundamental reform. It has been left to decay for too long and key elements, such as business rates, have become nothing more than a tax on jobs and growth hurting the UK’s productivity. A fundamental reform of business rates will increase the UK’s productivity.

We know that a reformed European Union will play a key role in our future prosperity, but progress needs to be made in a number of areas. A reformed EU will increase the UK’s productivity.

And we know that we need to move to a high-pay, high-skill economy. Both Government and industry need to work together to address the barriers to progression that exist across the economy so that more people can get on and do well.

Creating a high-paid, high-skilled workforce will increase the UK’s productivity.

These are the key issues facing our country and our industry, all of which are highlighted in the BRC’s submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review and Autumn Statement.

I’m hoping that this will help the Chancellor to bring together a prospectus for the British economy with the productivity of our industry at its heart.

  • Helen Dickinson is director-general of the British Retail Consortium