New UK Parliamentary Session Offers Opportunity To 'Reinvigorate Domestic Agenda': BRC
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has responded to the Queen's Speech, which traditionally commences a new parliamentary session in the UK government, by calling on the government to 'reinvigorate its domestic agenda', once the spectre of a no-deal Brexit has been avoided.
Commenting on the speech, in which the monarch read out a programme of 26 bills largely related to social issues, crime, healthcare and Brexit, the BRC said that the government should focus on implementing policies that 'support businesses and create conditions for investment in skills and productivity growth'.
On Brexit, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium note that the government has acknowledged the need for a transition period that would "give businesses time to prepare for life outside of the EU. However, this will require the swift negotiation of a Brexit deal to avoid a No Deal scenario that would result in higher prices and less availability on the shelves".
On immigration, Dickinson noted the "vital contribution" that EU migrant workers make to both retail and supply chains, and called for a system that "enables swift and straight-forward recruitment across all skill levels without significantly increasing the costs of employment".
Elsewhere, Dickinson welcomed the government's "clear commitment" to tackling crime, noting that every day, 115 retail workers are attacked as victims of crime in the workplace.
On sustainability, another focus area of the Queen's Speech, Dickinson noted that retailers have been "leading the charge" in reducing plastic and boosting recycling rates, saying that the BRC supports efforts to develop a circular, zero-waste economy in the UK.
One area that was surprisingly lacking from the Queen's Speech, however, was the topic of business rates, with Dickinson saying that the BRC was "surprised and disappointed that the Government didn’t take this opportunity to bring back the Non-Domestic Rating (Lists) Bill that will help business’ rates bills more accurately reflect the rents they pay. This in turn would help relieve struggling high streets and safeguard jobs and communities.
"Time is pressing for Government to meet its promise to revalue business rates by 2021 and we hope to see this put right in the upcoming Budget," she noted.
© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.