The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has put together its five item ‘wish list’ for the chancellor to address in the Spring Budget.
Bira, who work with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, has called upon Jeremy Hunt to address the issues facing the UK’s high street when he speaks in parliament on March 6.
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of Bira, urged the government to address the issues critical in ensuring the continued growth and prosperity of the retail sector.
“As the spring season approaches, we look to the government to sow the seeds for a robust and thriving retail landscape. Independent retailers are the lifeblood of our economy, and we believe that addressing these five key issues in the Spring Budget will not only support businesses but also contribute to the overall economic well-being of the nation,” Goodacre said.
Bira’s Top Five Wishes for the Spring Budget.
1. Permanent Retail Discount on Rates at 75 per cent
Bira stressed the importance of making the current retail discount permanent at 75 per cent for businesses with a rates payable value of up to £110,000 per annum. This measure, coupled with a frozen rates multiplier, aims to create a stable business environment and foster an atmosphere conducive to investment.
2. Policies to Improve Consumer Confidence and Spending
Bira called for the implementation of policies aimed at enhancing consumer confidence and spending. Recognising the symbiotic relationship between consumers and retailers, Bira said these measures will create a positive economic environment, driving growth and stability within the retail sector.
3. Increase in Employer National Insurance Allowance
By April, the National Minimum Wage will have risen by almost 20 per cent in the past two years. Bira advocates for a proportional 20 per cent increase in the employer’s national insurance allowance. This adjustment is crucial to providing essential support to businesses, helping them manage costs and maintain a balanced operational framework, the trade body said.
4. Reintroduction of Tax-Free Shopping in the UK
Bira highlighted the necessity of reinstating tax-free shopping to stimulate retail activity, particularly in tourist destinations across the country. This move is expected to foster increased spending, catering to the rising number of tourists and promoting economic resilience within the retail sector.
5. Action to Free Businesses from Expensive Energy Contracts
Given the recent fall in energy prices, Bira called for immediate action to liberate businesses from expensive energy contracts. This proactive step will alleviate financial burdens on retailers, enabling them to redirect resources toward growth and sustainability.
Goodacre added: “These wishes represent a collective vision for a vibrant and flourishing retail landscape. We believe that by addressing these crucial issues in the Spring Budget, the government can lay the groundwork for a prosperous future for independent retailers and the UK economy as a whole.”