Responding to the Labour Manifesto, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“The Labour manifesto includes many of the right policies to help retail invest for the future, upskill its workforce, and play its part in growing the UK economy. From replacing the broken business rates system, to reforming the rigid Apprenticeship Levy, Labour are promising to make changes that will have a meaningful impact to retailers and their customers. Should they be elected on July 4th, it is vital they continue to engage with businesses on the finer details of many of these policies.

On Business Rates:

“Labour recognises the current business rates system is broken – limiting business investment and leaving many retail premises empty. Retailers will want to see the details of what any replacement to our current system would look like. It is essential any new system brings down the disproportionate burden on retail, which currently pays 22% of the total rates bill, while accounting for 5% of the economy. Such reforms have the potential to incentivise vital investment and help diverse shopping destinations to thrive. While any plans are being consulted on, it is vital the current multiplier is frozen. Any solution must acknowledge that today’s customers shop both on our high streets and online and efforts to create a fairer system must not harm their ability to get high quality, affordable items, however they choose to shop.

On Apprenticeships and Skills:

“Since its inception the BRC and our members have called for greater flexibility in the use of the current Apprenticeship Levy. Labour have hit the nail on the head when they say the current rigid rules ignore vital skills and training needed to access apprenticeships. The system must change, and a flexible Growth and Skills Levy could provide just the answer retailers and their employees have been looking for.

On the rights of workers:

“Ensuring the three million retail workers in this country feel empowered and protected is something everyone should get behind. Given the breadth of Labour's 'New Deal for Working People', we are reassured by their commitment to consulting business further on the implementation of these proposals.”

On Crime:

“Rising rates of retail crime have been a blight on our high streets and retail centres. We welcome the pledge to create a new specific offence for assaulting a retail worker to protect our colleagues from both threats and violence. Furthermore, the manifesto pledges to get tough on shoplifting, which cost retailers £1.8 billion in 2023/24.”