ACS has set out the priorities for local shops which it will take to the new government

After weeks of rumour, we now know the shape of the coalition, both in Cabinet and across the government departments. This coalition brings both new opportunities and challenges for us when it comes to lobbying.

ACS is holding a breakfast briefing with key figures in government and our sector. We have built relationships with Mark Prisk MP, Minister of State for the Department of BIS, and Lorely Burt MP, chair of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party, and are keen to hear what they say about the role of local shops.

After consulting with members, we have established three priorities for local shops: reducing costs; tackling crime; and promoting fair business.

To reduce costs, government must be responsible about setting the national minimum wage and restrained in local and national business taxes. We also need to rethink social policy gimmicks such as the tobacco display ban.

Tackling crime means providing reassurance that theft from a shop is a crime taken seriously by police and the courts, and ensuring that there are suitable deterrents and actions in place.

Finally, for the government to promote fair business it must ensure all retailers have the chance to play their role in the economic recovery. We need to prevent exploitation of retailers' energy contracts, get the banks lending again, establish a planning system that doesn't damage high streets, and ensure that the government follows through on its promise to set up an ombudsman.

As a coalition is less able to dictate the agenda to parliament than a straight majority government, the voice of each MP becomes ever more prominent. For retailers, the best way to get your message across to MPs is to invite them into your store a well-arranged store visit can be incredibly effective.

James Lowman

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