Business chiefs spell out what retailers need from Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

Action on business rates, corporation tax, card fees and apprenticeships are just some the areas retail chiefs have flagged up for urgent attention in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver the Autumn Statement to parliament on Wednesday, November 22, and the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) and British Retail Consortium (BRC) have both laid out what they see as urgent areas that the Chancellor needs to address.

Business rates are at the top of the agenda for both retail bodies, with Bira calling for the current 75% discount to be retained for businesses with a rates payable value of £110,000 a year, with the BRC calling for business rates to be cut for all retailers by cutting the multiplier to 34.8p.

On corporation tax, the BRC called for an allowance to be introduced, similar to the system implemented for income tax, which it says would be instrumental in supporting businesses and ensuring sustained growth.

The BRC has also highlighted card fees as an issue and has called for a full review of whether interchange fees are fit for the purpose in the UK and to ensure that the Payment Systems Regulator’s market reviews result in meaningful action.

Bira also called for sustainability grants to support small businesses in implementing energy-saving investments, while on apprenticeships the BRC flagged up the need to stimulate greater investment in skills training to support the workforce of the future by expanding the Apprenticeship Levy into a wider Skills Levy.

Top: BRC CEO Helen Dickinson
Right: Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre

In the BRC’s submission to the Chancellor, chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The last few years have been challenging for retail. High inflation and rising costs immediately followed the pandemic, with operating margins contracting as retailers absorbed as much additional cost as possible and invested in prices and support for consumers, colleagues and suppliers. Cost pressures continue to bear on retailers: in this context, we encourage Government to alleviate those within its remit.”

At Bira, chief executive Andrew Goodacre said: “With the November budget approaching, we are eager to express our expectations and hopes for the forthcoming policies that will significantly impact the retail sector. We believe that [Bira’s] proposed measures can pave the way for a robust and sustainable economic recovery, benefiting both businesses and consumers alike and we wish for the Government to stand up and take note of [our] requests to help rebuild our high streets.”

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