Jonathan Reynolds

By Jonathan Reynolds

UK Government Retail Growth Strategy

For once, the UK Government has made Retailing one of its sectoral priorities for growth. In the recent Budget, the accompanying Plan for Growth set out eight ways in which the Government will seek to make life easier for the retailer.

Retail is subject to a wider range of regulation than any other sector, and businesses report that the cumulative burden is a significant barrier to retail growth and lower prices for consumers. (HM Treasury)

Over the past few months, the Department of Business and the Treasury has seriously engaged with leaders of both large and small retail firms, analysts and academics. Achieving consensus across large and small businesses and even amongst the supermarkets has never been easy historically. How well has the balance been achieved in the proposals below?

  1. The Government will extend the current small business rate relief holiday for one year from 1 October 2011.
  2. The Government will invite the independent Low Pay Commission (LPC) in its next report to consider and implement the best way to give business clarity on future levels of the National Minimum Wage, including consideration of two-year recommendations.
  3. The Government will introduce a package of measures to support thriving town centres and build on the Town Centre First policy.
  4. The Government will expand the Primary Authority model to apply consistent enforcement standards across a wider range of regulations and businesses.
  5. The Government will amend regulations affecting retailers to make them more outcome-focused, and use a checklist approach to assist SMEs in complying with these regulations that affect the Retail sector.
  6. The Government will implement a regulatory reform package to simplify complex and inconsistent age-restricted sales regulations and licences for businesses.
  7. The Government will work with retailers to ensure the skills system is delivering what the sector needs, including by providing pre-employment retail skills training to the unemployed and encouraging greater take-up of retail apprenticeships.
  8. The Government will work to remove regulatory barriers to increased cross-border online retail.
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