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BRC identifies 'Six Strategies for Success'
21
Aug '08
As the Chancellor begins drafting the Pre-Budget Report (PBR), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) is Thursday writing to Alisdair Darling asking him to use it to reduce retailers' price pressures and restore consumer confidence. The BRC is the first organisation to publish its 2008 PBR submission.

In its submission the BRC identifies 'Six Strategies for Success' – they are:
• Pushing down commercial property costs
• Encouraging employment
• Fuelling business efficiency
• Cutting basic household bills
• Helping on housing
• Meeting children's growing needs

Stephen Robertson, BRC Director General, said: “At this difficult time for retailers and family budgets it's vital that the Government acts to restore economic stability. The BRC is setting out its 'Six Strategies for Success' - a coherent plan designed to reduce price pressures and restore consumer confidence.”

Retailing is a vital part of the economy and sits at the heart of every community. Retailers employ three million workers in the UK and provide essential local services. The Chancellor's moves to help retailers should include:

1) Pushing down commercial property costs
• No extension of local tax raising powers, such as Business Rate Supplements (BRS), until the full consequences of these revenue raising measures are properly understood.
• The re-introduction of empty property relief, which was abolished in April.
• An urgent review of the tax treatment of unfair lease conditions where retail tenants have to pay large exit fees when surrendering leases early, but do not qualify for tax relief on these payments.

Stephen Robertson, BRC Director General, said: “Retailers are being hit by a double-whammy of a deepening economic slowdown and a range of higher property costs. The Government should alleviate the increase in retail property costs by bringing back empty property rate relief and allowing retailers tax relief on the large exit fees they pay when surrendering leases early.”

2) Encouraging employment
• National Minimum Wage (NMW) increases never to exceed average earning increases and for the Low Pay Commission (LPC) to take into account difficult trading conditions, such as the current environment, and the impact on the service sector.

Stephen Robertson, BRC Director General, said: “Retail is responsible for over 10 per cent of UK employment, leads the way on training and workforce diversity and is at the heart of the Government's drive to help difficult-to-employ people back into work. Retailers support the National Minimum Wage but future rises should not exceed average earnings increases.”

Consumer confidence is currently at record lows, while soaring energy and housing costs are hitting family budgets hard. The Chancellor should help customers by:

3) Cutting basic household bills
• The urgent introduction of zero VAT ratings for environmentally friendly and energy saving goods, such as low energy light bulbs.

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