As we enter election season, the day-to-day business of government is put on pause, but this doesn’t mean our work as a lobby group is less important. If anything, it’s one of the most important times as we seek to monitor and influence parties’ policies.

We have campaigned for several months to get a full review of the business rates system. This is an area that all the parties like to sound interested in, but the manifesto launches will tell us if we can expect substantial changes after the election.

Another area of interest is litter and we believe councils need more funding to maximise the effectiveness of kerbside recycling schemes, and that the next government should include small businesses in England in the 5p carrier bag charge.

One of the biggest costs for retailers is employment, with the major parties often being drawn into seeing who can pledge to make the minimum and living wages higher. We are clear that wage rates should not be used as a political football, and will continue to campaign to ensure that the Low Pay Commission isn’t given arbitrary targets to meet.

Finally, police forces must take shop theft seriously, and the government should put measures in place to ensure that the penalties are an effective deterrent and also help people who are driven to crime by addiction.

There will be more issues that affect your store locally and now is the perfect time to get your local candidates in store to ask them about what they plan to do to support your business if elected. You can find out more about arranging a store visit by emailing Steve Dowling at