The Association of Convenience Stores has urged political parties not to use the minimum wage as a bargaining tool ahead of the surprise General Election on 8 June.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans for a General Election today (Tuesday), with the primary intention of securing a mandate to deliver the UK’s exit from the European Union.

But ACS chief executive James Lowman said the election was also an opportunity for all parties to set out how they intend to support local shops in the next parliamentary term, and urged them to consider their approaches to the national living wage and minimum wage.

“Firstly, it is essential that action is taken to reform the business rates system and help retailers to invest,” he said.

“We’re also keen to ensure that environmental issues are addressed through effective policies to reduce waste that don’t overburden local shops, and believe that extending the carrier bag charge to all retailers would be a beneficial, simple and effective solution.

“We do not believe that the minimum wage and living wage rates should be used as a bargaining tool to gain votes at the expense of hard working entrepreneurs and community businesses, and will encourage all parties to allow the Low Pay Commission to lead an independent process of setting wage rates.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn recently announced that Labour would increase the National Living Wage to £10 per hour in government. The policy would see the introduction of what he called the ‘Real Living Wage’. 

The ACS said it was committed to working to get the best deal for local shops in the run up to the election. Some of the issues at the heart of our campaigning work with MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates are:

  • Meaningful reform of the business rates system to make it fairer for different types of businesses, while ensuring that those who invest aren’t penalised for doing so
  • Scrapping the expensive and time consuming proposals for a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans across England, Wales and Scotland
  • Ensuring that crimes against retailers and their staff are taken seriously by the justice system and local police forces
  • Strengthening the Government’s commitment to tackling the illicit trade on the ground in both alcohol and tobacco
  • Introducing stronger, enforceable standards of conduct for energy companies when dealing with small businesses