Responding to the Chancellor’s Spending Review, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“We are encouraged that the government is considering options for further rates relief for businesses affected by Covid. Many retail businesses have been shuttered for the past month, depriving them of £8bn in sales. A return to full business rates liability in April would be impossible for some firms to meet and freezing the multiplier in 2021/22 does not solve this problem. The Government should adopt our proposal for business rates relief at 50% which reflects the fall in retail property values and brings market reality into the system, while generating much needed revenue for the Treasury. This, along with an extension to the moratorium on debt enforcement, to encourage constructive dialogue between landlords and tenants on rents, will support the resilience of the retail industry. This would allow the industry to invest in the future and play its part in the economic recovery of the UK.

“We were disappointed that the Chancellor did not choose to reverse the decision to end tax-free shopping for international visitors to the UK. The policy will deliver a relatively small saving for the Treasury at the expense of a far greater return to the UK economy, and will damage the UK’s position as a top destination for international shoppers.”

On Minimum Wage rises:

“We support the Government decision to adopt the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations for a moderate increase to the New Living Wage. Many retailers are already paying wages above the NLW and will continue to do so into the future.”

On the Levelling up Fund:

“We heard with interest what the Chancellor had to say about a “Levelling up Fund” to support local areas. We hope the fund can be used to provide much needed investment in town and city centres, supporting local communities and businesses around the country.”