So after 11 years in power, the Labour government – which has burdened us all with so much red tape – now wants to help small business. A little too late, I fear, for many.

A cut in VAT to 15% would see a 1p off a Mars Bar and 10p off a £4 bottle of wine, but how many of us are going to re-price all our stock or update our epos systems and change all our shelf edges? It’s great news for those buying a new car or similar large purchase, but if you have just been made redundant or are sinking in a mire of debt, will it really encourage you to go out and spend more this Christmas? I doubt it.

As a c-store owner I’m braced for at least two difficult years, but here’s my wish list for how the government can help our sector. First, all those wholesalers who have put their prices up over the past months due to ‘rising transport costs’ should be forced to lower them to reflect the falling price of fuel.

Second, I’d like fixed prices – both wholesale and retail – on essential lines such as bread and milk, as I fail to understand how Booker can sell Kingsmill at 69p per loaf but Tesco, which I assume must be buying in at a similar price, sells it at £1.22 retail. A nice little earner for them.

Third, the multiples’ practice of selling below cost should be outlawed. Morrisons this week was selling a 2ltr Pepsi and giving two more free – equivalent to half the best wholesale price I can get.

Finally, I would like the planned increase to statutory holiday to 5.6 weeks from April 1 to be deferred, as this will have a significant financial impact on many retailers. I came through the recession of the early 1990s as a stronger businessmen and I just hope that those who survive this time around learn some valuable lessons from the experience.

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