ACS Blog

Can Businesses Afford to Give Their Staff a Pay Rise?

David Cameron has today urged businesses to give their staff a pay rise.  Clearly the Government’s economic analysis is that with inflation low, increasing wages would give further fuel to UK plc’s growth at little risk.

That macroeconomic analysis may be correct, but I have to start my response by looking at the microeconomic picture – the costs and income that dictate the way that businesses are run.  There are two problems for our sector with a strategy based on a hike in wages, and specifically in the National Minimum Wage.

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Review of the Year 2014

So I guess this would be a good time for me to write a review of the year.  I’m never that keen on such musings, largely because the political calendar we work to doesn’t run from January to December, and because I feel very little sense of anything concluding as we approach Christmas.  So instead of a summary of the last twelve months, here’s an assessment of where we are on some of the key policy issues affecting our sector.

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What Next for Rates Reform?

Announcing business rates reform was the easy bit. Now the Chancellor has to work out what changes to this £26bn tax revenue stream will be fairer, pro-growth, fiscally responsible and popular.

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Tackling Duty Fraud using Licensing Law

Two alcohol policy issues close to ACS’ heart are duty fraud and licensing law, and I think these are more closely linked than you might think.  Once in a while, we hear that alcohol harm is linked to the growth in the number of off licences, with responsible and irresponsible retailers lumped in together when their impact on the areas where they trade could not be more different.

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Alternatives to Smoking

ACS tends not to back certain products over others, or to act as a defender of product categories. On issues like alcohol and tobacco legislation, we focus on the retail impact of proposed changes, and try to make selling these products responsibly as straightforward and unburdensome as possible.

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Derelict Pubs or Great Local Shops?

We hear from CAMRA this morning that 31 pubs are closing each week. I’ll start and finish this blog with a personal observation you may wish to dismiss as just that.

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The Space Race

A couple of interesting statistics have come to light in the past week that are relevant to ACS’s long running campaign on effective town centre first planning policy. The first was broadcast as part of a Dispatches programme that aired last week on the fate of the big four supermarkets. They commissioned Glenigans to look at what had happened to supermarkets’ plans to invest in new stores.

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Buried Good News: Youth Smoking and Drinking Rates

I want to write a quick blog on the Health & Social Care Information Centre’s latest stats on smoking and drinking among 11 – 15 year olds. I’m doing this because I’m not sure this data will get a huge amount of coverage elsewhere, this being another good news story on the reduced prevalence of drinking and smoking among young people. Young people sprawled out high streets, post-fight, makes a better media angle.

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Portas: Three Years On

Today we’ve seen another contribution to the high streets debate from Mary Portas. Those who feel high streets are important can thank Mary – and also David Cameron who commissioned her – for establishing a debate about high streets in the national psyche. She published her report way back in December 2011, and since then it’s been praised and derided in almost equal measure. For the record, ACS welcomed her report when it came out, and we think that much of the criticism of it has been poorly targeted.

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