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Bring to an end wish-list politics - BRC Chairman
Sep '09
Amid all the talk of spending cuts versus tax increases, there must be "an end to wish-list politics" and a focus on "what is essential, not what seems politically nice to do."

That's what British Retail Consortium (BRC) Chairman Luke Mayhew will tell Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and an audience of 1,200 senior retail industry figures, politicians and officials tonight (Wednesday).

Addressing the BRC's Annual Retail Industry Dinner, Luke Mayhew, who is also Chairman of Pets At Home and former Managing Director of John Lewis, will say the recession has hit retailing less severely than many feared and the Government deserves credit for, "its part in helping maintain consumer demand." But he will caution that the country still faces a long period when it cannot afford everything governments will want to do.

He will call on politicians to be honest about the true costs of their proposals. He will also warn that fragile consumer confidence must not be taken for granted by any post-election government considering tax increases.

British Retail Consortium Chairman Luke Mayhew will say: "We need an end to wish-list politics. We all need to focus on what is essential and not what seems politically nice to do.

"So I make a plea that, whether it's hiking National Insurance or a supermarket ombudsman or carrier bag 'taxes' or pay gap reporting - current and future ministers really do the maths and assess the real economic cost and returns; and that - for every new piece of regulation they think of proposing - there is the honesty to measure its true cost."

Luke Mayhew will add: "I also urge our politicians to resist, next year introducing even more taxation that would undermine consumer confidence and spending power. So far, consumer expenditure has been more resilient than most of us expected. We must give credit to this Government for its part in helping maintain consumer demand but underlying confidence is very fragile. It should not be taken for granted.

"We are not a sector that looks for subsidies. We're naturally entrepreneurial. As we drive productivity and growth we'll play a substantial role in the country's economic recovery and reducing unemployment. But only if consumer confidence is not undermined and we are not weighed down with additional costs and more wish-list regulation."

British Retail Consortium (BRC)

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