Retail NI has set out its priorities for the next Assembly term.

Its New Ambition plan details 29 policy priorities, focusing on four key sections: Improving Government, Tackling the Cost of Business Crisis, Modern Infrastructure and Better Planning and Addressing the Climate Crisis.

The trade body has also urged immediate all-party talks post-election to agree a Programme for Government and form an Executive.

Retail NI president Peter McBride said: “Launching our New Ambition report in Omagh signals Retail NI’s commitment to campaign for a better deal for our rural towns and villages from Government. A top priority in our report is establishing a Rural Town and Village Infrastructure investment fund to ensure our small and mid-sized town are not left behind.”

“Our members want to see a new Executive hit the ground running with a radical Programme for Government and a plan to address the Cost of Living Crisis.”

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts added: “Retail NI members are facing a perfect storm of challenges from, energy hikes, labour shortages, National Insurance increases and Covid-19 recovery. We are not just dealing with a cost-of-living crisis, we are also facing a cost of business crisis too.

“We also want to see the current business rates holiday extended until January 2023 to alleviate some of the pressure on business,” he said. “With the review of Invest NI ongoing, Retail NI wants to see the Executive create a new Small Business Champion to head a new agency which will focus on micro and small business development and be a ‘one stop shop’ for those seeking to start up on their own.

“We have also put forward plans for a radical reform of Business Rates rates relief to enable businesses to bring forward new investment, create jobs and Green technology. Retail NI wants to see the NI High Street Taskforce recommendations implemented in full and with new Executive established immediately implement the five-year High Reconstruction plan.”