Retail chiefs call for Spring Budget to support retailers

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt

The Chancellor needs to focus in his Spring Statement on measures to help retailers survive the cost-of-living crisis, say retail chiefs.

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), urged Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to consider retailers’ needs in his fiscal statement on March 15.

He said: “The Spring Statement is an opportunity for the Chancellor to put forward plans to grow the economy. Recent figures suggest that inflation is falling quicker than expected and energy prices have also fallen significantly since last year’s chaos. This should allow the Chancellor to focus on growth and support for the smaller businesses on the high streets throughout the UK.”

Goodacre set out the key points that Bira wants the Chancellor to address in his Budget.

The first area is business rates, which Bira believes needs “wholesale reform”. Bira welcomed the discount that will come into force in April but wants to see the multiplier permanently removed for small retailers.

Bira also called for support over energy bills as the relief available will fall from £6,400 a year to £400, either by way of grants for energy-efficient businesses or the ability to renegotiate contracts signed when prices were at their highest.

Also on Bira’s agenda was taxation, with the implementation of a similar scheme for indie retailers as the allowance for corporation tax.

Bira also suggested encouraging retailers to invest in energy-saving measures and reduce the burden on businesses, starting with the reduction of NI contributions.

With the KBB industry suffering from an ongoing skills shortage, it will welcome Bira’s call to review the apprenticeship scheme and create a system that allows businesses to attract talent and give younger people a genuine opportunity to start a career.

Goodacre concluded: “Change is a given and the smaller businesses need time and encouragement to change. Many have started, only to be set back by other external factors such as the cost-of-living crisis or the cost of energy. These are perfectly good businesses who should not be allowed to fail through no fault of their own. Recent positive economic data should allow the Chancellor to be positive towards indie retailers in the spring Budget.”

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