Retail chiefs send Chancellor wish list for Spring Budget

Andrew Goodacre, Bira CEO

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will be delivering his Spring Budget on Wednesday, March 6 and independent retailers association Bira has sent him its wish list of measures it would like to see addressed.

British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) chief executive Andrew Goodacre is calling on the Chancellor to address the issues facing the UK’s high streets and to tackle the areas it consider critical to the continued growth and prosperity of the retail sector.

Goodacre said: “As the spring season approaches, we look to the Government to sow the seeds for a robust and thriving retail landscape. Independent retailers are the lifeblood of our economy, and we believe that addressing these five key issues [see below] in the Spring Budget will not only support businesses, but also contribute to the overall economic well-being of the nation.”

Bira’s top five wishes for the Spring Budget, as spelled out to the Chancellor, are:

1. Permanent Retail Discount on Rates at 75%
Bira stresses the importance of making the current retail discount permanent at 75% for businesses with a rates payable value of up to £110,000 per annum. This measure, coupled with a frozen rates multiplier, aims to create a stable business environment and foster an atmosphere conducive to investment.

2. Policies to Improve Consumer Confidence and Spending
Bira calls for the implementation of policies aimed at enhancing consumer confidence and spending. Recognising the symbiotic relationship between consumers and retailers, Bira believes that these measures will create a positive economic environment, driving growth and stability within the retail sector.

3. Increase in Employer National Insurance Allowance
By April, the National Minimum Wage will have risen by almost 20% in the past two years. Bira advocates for a proportional 20% increase in the employer’s national insurance allowance. This adjustment is crucial to providing essential support to businesses, helping them manage costs and maintain a balanced operational framework.

4. Reintroduction of Tax-Free Shopping in the UK
Bira highlights the necessity of reinstating tax-free shopping to stimulate retail activity, particularly in tourist destinations across the country. This move is expected to foster increased spending, catering to the rising number of tourists and promoting economic resilience within the retail sector.

5. Action to Free Businesses from Expensive Energy Contracts
Given the recent fall in energy prices, Bira calls for immediate action to liberate businesses from expensive energy contracts. This proactive step will alleviate financial burdens on retailers, enabling them to redirect resources toward growth and sustainability.

Commenting on the measures he has outlined to the Chancellor, Goodacre added: “These wishes represent a collective vision for a vibrant and flourishing retail landscape. We believe that by addressing these crucial issues in the Spring Budget, the government can lay the groundwork for a prosperous future for independent retailers and the UK economy as a whole.”

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