The key priorities outlined in the manifesto are:
- Relieve the business rates burden by scrapping ‘downwards transition’, which takes £1.3 billion from retailers every five years. Money that should be invested in growth, skills and innovation.
- Reform the Apprenticeship Levy to allow greater flexibility to spend on any form of accredited training.
- Protect hardworking shopworkers by bringing forward legislation to safeguard the 115 retail workers who are attacked every day.
The UK retail industry accounts for 5% of our economy and contributes £98.4 billion GVA. Last year alone, £1 billion was invested into Research and Development as well as a further £1.1 billion into new technologies. At the same time, the industry has faced high rates of store closures and job losses and the 12-month average retail sales growth currently sits at just 0.1%, the lowest on record. The next Government must do more if retail is to be the vision of success it sets out to be.
The retail industry pays its way, generating £17 billion in business taxes and driving 5.1% productivity growth across the industry compared to just 0.5% in the UK as a whole. The industry is the largest private sector employer, with three million people directly employed in retail, and many more reliant on the industry. It is imperative that action is taken to ensure the industry can continue to support local communities up and down the country.
‘A Vision for The UK Retail Industry’ outlines the BRC’s recommendations for a comprehensive, cross-Government strategy for retail, as well as measures to reform funding for digital skills, and to tackle both instore crime and online fraud. The next Government’s role will be imperative to the future success of retail. To this end, action must be taken to promote investment and allow the industry to fulfil its vision of success.
Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive at the British Retail Consortium said:
“‘A Vision for The UK Retail Industry’ offers a path to empowering our shops, our shopworkers and our communities. Political parties should grasp this chance for reform. The General Election is a unique opportunity to address many of the imbalances that are adversely affecting retailers. Imbalances that have led to job losses and store closures up and down the country.
“Fixing the broken business rates system and reforming the Apprenticeship Levy would help unlock the necessary investment into skills, stores and online necessary to allow retail to thrive.”