Retailers push Osborne to take 'urgent action'


Retailers have urged the Chancellor, George Osborne, to abandon planned tax increases, saying he needs to "take urgent action" to support the embattled sector and grow the economy.

Ahead of the Government's Autumn statement tomorrow, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) demanded the Treasury abandon the increases to fuel tax planned for next year and keep business rates and the minimum wage "under control". The body also warned the Government against springing any surprise taxes after last year's £1bn carbon reduction commitment.

The demands were published as part of a report commissioned by the BRC studying "retailing's importance to kick-starting growth and job creation". This comes in a month where a series of retailers have come under pressure.

Stephen Robertson, the BRC's director-general, said: "We're not a sector that asks for handouts but the Chancellor must take urgent action to support, not undermine, the retail growth that can drive the recovery."

He added: "Eighteen months in, with the economy stalling, the need for the Government to deliver real growth – not just more promises – is all the more urgent."

Fears for the sector are growing ahead of the crucial final weeks of Christmas trading. Last week Blacks Leisure became the latest retailer to warn on profits. The outdoor retail specialist saw its shares plunge to an all-time low of 3.75p on Friday, and analysts estimated it would need to raise a further £20m.

A day earlier Arcadia, the owner of Topshop run by Sir Philip Green, said full-year profits had fallen 38 per cent to £133.1m. The group, which also includes Bhs and Dorothy Perkins, could close up to 260 stores over the next three years, as leases expire.

The BRC's latest retail market figures showed sales "flatlining", with the largest drop in footfall since the blizzards of last December. There are now 23,000 fewer jobs in the sector than a year ago.

Mr Robertson said the Chancellor "must control the costs he is responsible for – in particular next year's threatened fuel duty and business rates rises – and make it easier and more affordable for retailers to resume job creation".

The report, drawn up by Oxford Economics and the Oxford Institute of Retail Management, found that retailers delivered sales of £292bn in 2010, about a fifth of gross domestic product.

Retailers also employ just over 10 per cent of all those in jobs and 40 per cent of those under 20. The lobby group pointed out that retailers made a "substantial" contribution of £18bn a year to the Exchequer. The BRC said the findings showed that goods in UK shops were 5 per cent cheaper than in the Eurozone, with clothes 20 per cent lower.

The BRC slammed the "Red Tape Challenge", saying it "so far has failed to deliver any significant de-regulation".

Taxes and turmoil

British companies want the Chancellor to focus on slashing taxes to boost growth. More than half of the tax professionals surveyed by the accountant PwC believe the tax regime needs to be made more attractive, although many admitted the biggest barrier to growth was the turmoil in the global economy. Alex Henderson, a tax partner at PwC, said: "Economic turmoil is building anticipation ahead the Chancellor's Autumn Statement. There's a sense that 'something must be done' to get people spending and the economy moving. Tax cuts may provide the fastest route."

Of those surveyed by PwC, 27 per cent believe George Osborne should consider cutting VAT or income tax to lift spending. Almost 30 per cent believe the focus should be on attracting enterprise and talent to the UK.

Many companies believe the provision of credit should be a focus in tomorrow's statement, and almost a quarter were calling for red tape to be reduced.

Mr Henderson said: "Lack of credit and red tape are undoubtedly major issues for British business, but these problems are particularly acute for smaller and mid-sized firms, where they can make the difference between success or failure."

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London