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General Election: BRC responds to Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour manifestos

Laura  Barnes
General Election: BRC responds to Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour manifestos

The general election takes place on June 8th, when the UK will decide who will run our country for the next five years.

As the day draws closer, the UK’s leading political parties have presented their election promises.

With Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative party now having all released their manifestos, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has responded to the elements outlined in each one that will effect retail and business in the UK.

Labour manifesto “a mixed bag for retail”
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Responding to the Labour Party’s manifesto, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, commented: "This is a mixed bag for the retail industry – Britain’s biggest private sector employer. There are some welcome flashes of vision and clarity, like recognition of the need to review a business rates system that is no longer fit for purpose and the proposed reassurances on Brexit negotiations.

“However, at a time of rapid change, growing cost pressures and intense competition, a co-ordinated and strategic approach from the next Government is needed to support retailers’ commitment to drive productivity with better jobs, innovation and investment to improve the communities they serve.”

Speaking about Labour’s plans for business rates, Dickinson added: “We strongly support the commitment to review the entire business rates system in the longer run in order to make it fit for purpose in the 21st century. However, any review needs to incorporate business tax in its entirety and not be constrained by the technicality of fiscal neutrality around business rates. Switching from RPI to CPI indexation would, of course, be a welcome step forward, however businesses need a further commitment from the next Government to bring the implementation forward to April 2018.

“A fairer business tax system also requires more frequent revaluations. Three-yearly revaluations, which should commence from 2020, will reduce the number of unneeded appeals and be fairer and more closely aligned to economic circumstances.”

Liberal Democrat manifesto shows “thoughtful ambition for working with the retail industry”

Responding to the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto, Dickson said: “We welcome some of the bolder thinking on innovation and jobs of the future. Retail is a driving force in our economy and there are 100,000 people doing jobs that didn’t exist five years ago. We support the Liberal Democrats’ thoughtful ambition for the next Government to work with the retail industry to look at the impact of new technology on jobs.

“We welcome the recognition of the need to reform our broken business rates system but this needs to work for businesses of all sizes – small and large - their employees and British high streets. There are no winners from a system that is fundamentally broken.”

Conservative manifesto has “sensible starting points but questions left unanswered”

The BRC’s reponse to the Conservative’s manifesto extensively covered Brexit and the economy, with Dickinson commenting that: “There are some sensible starting points ahead of a transformational journey, but there are questions left unanswered.

“There is much more work to be done to drive innovation, productivity and new skills in a changing world. The retail industry will work with the next Government to build a fair Brexit for consumers and a pioneering economy.”

Speaking specifically about the Conservative’s plans for leaving the EU, Dickinson said: “We welcome the commitment to a new Trade Bill, which we hope will fill the regulatory vacuum of post-Brexit trade. In order for this bill to be effective, the next Government must work with businesses to ensure the best possible future trading environment is achieved.

“It’s right that the UK replicate all existing EU free trade agreements. Ensuring that consumers continue to enjoy great quality, choice and value on goods depends on a continuation of tariff-free trade on all products traded between the UK and the EU. Whether through reaching a new trading relationship quickly or securing a transitional arrangement, we will seek to make sure this is at the heart of plans for a smooth and orderly Brexit.

“Employers throughout retail must be able to secure their current workforce and fill vacancies in the future. It’s crucial that the next Government secures the rights of EU nationals living and working in the UK at the earliest possible opportunity during the withdrawal negotiations with the EU.”

Read the BRC’s full responses to all three manifestos here.

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Tags: Retail , brc , labour , general election , manifestos , conservative , lib dem

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