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    Prioritise independent retail sector, Bira tells new Labour government

    Keir Starmer, leader of Britain's Labour party, reacts as he speaks at a reception to celebrate his win in the election, at Tate Modern, in London, Britain, July 5, 2024. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

    Following Labour’s landslide victory in the general election, the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), has urged the new government to make good on its promise of change by prioritising the revival of the independent retail sector and high streets across the UK.

    Bira, which works with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, has consistently campaigned for policies that support and nurture independent retailers.

    Prioritise independent retail sector, Bira tells new Labour government
    Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

    In light of the election result, the association has reiterated its key priorities for the new government:

    • Lower business rates for smaller retailers
    • Review of corporate tax to encourage more investment by smaller businesses
    • Continued investment in local high streets, addressing issues such as parking availability and cost
    • Increased focus on combating retail crime
    • Review of the cycle to work scheme to ensure retailers also benefit
    • A coordinated plan to reduce wastage in the retail sector
    • Review of regulations to prevent disproportionate impact on smaller retailers

    Bira emphasised that these priorities are crucial for the survival and growth of independent retailers, which are the backbone of local economies and communities across the UK.

    Prioritise independent retail sector, Bira tells new Labour government
    Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre

    “Congratulations to Labour on their landslide victory in the general election. The Labour party won on a mandate of delivering change and we urge the new government to deliver positive change for high streets and independent retailers,” Andrew Goodacre, Bira chief executive, said.

    “We know there is a commitment to reforming business rates – that needs to happen at the earliest opportunity to protect high street businesses. We also need to see the commitment to investing in our town centres and local areas, where independent retailers play such a vital role in the local economy. We also hope that the nature of this election result boosts consumer confidence, resulting in economic growth.”

    The association added that they stood ready to work with the new government to implement policies that will revitalise high streets and support the independent retail sector.

    ‘New government must stick to manifesto pledges’

    Jacqui Baker, head of retail at RSM UK and chair of ICAEW’s Retail Group, said the new government must stick to its bold promises made to the retail sector and small businesses.

    “While Labour have vowed to scrap the current business rates system, retailers are nervously awaiting the details on how the system will work in practice. As the biggest burden for the sector, retailers are banking on an effective overhaul that makes it fit for purpose once and for all,” Baker said.

    “Labour’s vow to clampdown on anti-social behaviour against shop workers will go some way in providing reassurance to staff that they can feel safe at work. Crime is a growing and devastating issue in the sector, so strong measures that deter criminals and make a real difference are urgently needed.

     “Looking ahead, with tax cuts feeding through to consumers’ pay packets, this should provide an uplift to spending as consumers start to feel better off. Plus, with interest rates expected to come down later this year, providing a boost to the property market, the retail sector should also benefit as consumers finally splash out on bigger ticket items for their new homes.”

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