The British Retail Consortium has welcomed the chancellor’s focus on putting more money in people’s pockets.
BRC director general, Helen Dickinson said: “Our customers will welcome the Chancellor’s focus on putting more money in their pockets through changing the tax thresholds, fuel duty and savings and pensions arrangements. The BRC’s projections demonstrate that whilst recovery is now a tangible trend, progress is still fragile and retail can play a strong role going forward provided that consumers feel confident enough to spend.
“As an industry that employs over one million people under 25, we applaud the Chancellor’s measures to support 100,000 more apprenticeships and the re-confirmation that he will scrap the jobs tax for under-21s. Retail offers young people fantastic career opportunities with great promotion prospects and our members will now be looking at ways to bring even more into our industry.
“There are around two million women working in retail because our industry offers flexibility as well as good career progression and so we are very pleased to see that more help with childcare costs will be available.
“The priority for our industry remains the reform of business rates so that we can make optimum use of physical space in a changing retail world. We welcomed the announcement in the Autumn Statement on the discounts and reliefs for smaller retailers which will bring short term benefits to town centres. We were pleased to see the review of rates administration and have been encouraged by the engagement in our Road to Reform project from the Treasury team. Having made the case for broad reform of the system, we are looking forward to more discussion about possible options when we publish our next stage of research in May. As the Chancellor said today, when you cut a tax that is punitively high you increase revenues and we look forward to discussing this with him in due course.
“British retailers in e-commerce already export more than £4bn of goods to customers overseas. There is scope to increase that amount to around £28 billion per year by 2020 if the conditions are right. The Chancellor’s measures to extend the role for UKTI will be warmly welcomed by our members who are keenly promoting their businesses abroad. We look forward to hearing the criteria for support and how world leading retail can benefit.
“We welcome the measures to ease the pressure of energy bills for UK manufacturing which will be felt throughout the economy. This will help retailers to continue to invest in energy efficiency and support Government goals in security of supply and managing carbon risks. We support the Governments focus on simplification of the energy policy landscape and look forward to working closely to harmonise energy and carbon policy to maximise the opportunities in energy efficiency and low carbon investment for the future.
“Retail in the UK includes over 200,000 small businesses which welcome support for innovation and growth through the availability of annual seed funding.The whole retail industry will welcome the extension of the annual investment allowance. Economic activity in infrastructure, manufacturing and house-building is good for the broad economy, puts more people into work and brings positive benefits to the retail sector.
“The BRC welcomes the Government announcement to consult on a possible new £1 coin. It is important for industry that any potential change is effectively planned and managed in order to minimise hardware costs for business. The BRC will engage with both the Government and the Royal Mint to support a smooth transition period.”
Paul Souber, head of central London retail agency at property firm, Colliers, said: “The retail sector will be pleased with the OBR’s revised growth predictions and the tackling of the budget deficit; coupled with the predicted rise in real wages. In addition, the boost to savings that Chancellor announced through ISA’s and pension reforms should feed through to an increase in consumer spending.
“Disappointingly, the measures that the Chancellor used to address the rating issue didn’t go far enough in tackling a rating system crying out for reform. Cutting £1,000 from retailer’s rates bills is a drop in the ocean. What would have really benefitted retailers would have been an immediate Rating Revaluation and a commitment to overhaul how business rates are calculated.”