The Association of Convenience Stores has set out its agenda to the Chancellor ahead of the Budget, highlighting long-term business rates reform, tackling the £1.3bn annual cost of duty fraud and minimising the negative impact of employment costs for small shops.

It has submitted evidence to the Treasury for the final Budget before the 2015 General Election.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said the government should follow recent action to reduce the burden of business rates with wholesale reform to make the rates system fairer.

“The Chancellor could cement his commitment to small businesses by raising the small business rate relief threshold to £50,000, which would encourage growth and investment across ours and other sectors,” he added.

Lowman said political posturing on the minimum wage had dented business confidence, and pointed to ACS research showing that 94% of retailers had been negatively affected by employment costs over the last year.

“Recent posturing on the minimum wage from politicians on all sides is unwelcome. We are calling for the retention of an independent Low Pay Commission to make recommendations on the minimum wage free from political pressure,” he said.

On duty fraud, he claimed there was a strong correlation between increases in duty rates for alcohol and the purchase of non-duty paid products.

“Government should freeze the current duty rates and make tackling fraud a top priority of their alcohol strategy. Retailers who engage in duty fraud should lose their licence, it’s that simple,” he said.

The full submission is available in the Lobbying section of the ACS website.