In these tumultuous economic times, it can seem like the usual order of things is being turned on its head. The Pre-Budget Report was extraordinary: tax cuts, spending commitments and the highest amount of borrowing ever undertaken by a British government.

Hopefully, these measures will avert the type of extended recession that we all fear, but they are not all retail-friendly.

Cutting VAT has been a major headache for convenience retailers. I have spoken with c-store chains and independent retailers who grappled all last week with the administrative burden of changing prices, shelf-edge labels and IT systems. It was clear from our daily phone calls with government officials that they had not understood what this meant before deciding to do it.

On fuel, alcohol and tobacco we have seen net increases almost across the piece. Much as the chancellor stated that duty increases were only to offset the decrease in VAT, it turned out this was a tax grab, even after the u-turn on spirit duty.  

As we made clear to government last week, the major problem is the short implementation window at our busiest trading periods in the year. No matter how much interest politicians are showing in our sector - their support of our Heart of the Community seminar was evidence that they are eager to listen - you can't help but feel that government still doesn't really understand the pressures facing retailers.

As we go into next year and the Budget next spring we will be making the case for immediate action on business rates. Government has to stop the scheduled 5% increase. An even bigger issue is the 2010 revaluation which looks set to increase the rates bill significantly for many retailers.

Until the chancellor starts to look at measures in this area, the financial rescue is unfinished business.

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