The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged chancellor George Osborne to support ailing retailers in his upcoming Autumn Statement.
In a letter to Osborne, the BRC has called for action on six issues affecting retailers. It urged the government to freeze business rates in April 2013 following exceptional rates rises in 2011 and 2012, and a move away from using September’s RPI to calculate the following April’s rate.
It identified employment as another issue that required government attention. It proposed offering employers who take on young people a year’s holiday from National Insurance Contributions and a 1.8% cap on increases of the National Minimum Wage.
The BRC also called for a high speed broadband rollout, a cancellation of the fuel duty increase and a change to the Carbon Reduction Commitment which would include basing tax on annual energy statements.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said consumer spending had been affected by faltering job security, tight credit conditions and the continued squeeze on real disposable incomes.
“The priorities which we have identified are designed to enable us to continue to make the greatest possible contribution to the economic recovery,” said Robertson.
“The challenges facing us remain very significant: consumer confidence is stubbornly weak, sales growth is flat and costs continue to rise rapidly. Consequently we are asking you to focus on a small number of concrete measures to support our industry and the UK economy as a whole.”
The Autumn Statement will be made by the chancellor on December 5.