Chancellor George Osborne must address significant business rate increases, retail jobs and improving access to overseas markets in his Autumn statement, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged.
In a letter sent to George Osborne, the BRC has set out how Government should be supporting retailers at a time when consumer spending is falling and retail employment is dropping.
Osborne is due to make his pre-budget speech on November 29.
The BRC has urged him to “radically rethink” calculating April 2012 Uniform Business Rates on September’s RPI, which hit 5.6% this year – much higher than the expected 5%. This is a particular concern following the April 2011 UBR, which saw a 4.6% increase.
Following data last week that showed the sharpest fall in retail employment since 2009, the BRC has also called on Osborne to limit a National Minimum Wage rise to a maximum of 2.1% so retailers can afford to employ more staff. In addition, BRC said any new employment regulation should be delayed until growth is established in the sector once again.
Fuel duty rises next year should also be scrapped, the BRC has said, warning they could total between 7p and 8p.
As the UK is Europe’s leader in online retailing, fully opening EU markets would also drive growth, the BRC believes. It has asked Osborne to push the European Commission to deliver its promised single digital market.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “With consumer spending and retail job numbers dropping, rebuilding the confidence of customers to spend and retailers to return to investing and creating jobs has to be the Chancellor’s priority.
“He must hold back the costs he is responsible for. Freezing Council Tax offers welcome relief to hard-pressed households. The Chancellor should go further and help businesses and consumers by freezing fuel duty rates.”