Local Shops Set Out Budget Priorities to Chancellor

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has called on the chancellor to support the growth of convenience stores by taking action on employment, rates reform and duty fraud ahead of the summer 2015 Budget.

In its submission to government ahead of the first Budget after the 2015 General Election, ACS has called for government to ensure that the Low Pay Commission remains an independent body and is not influenced by central government targets.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We believe that minimum wage recommendations should be made by an independent Low Pay Commission. Recent moves by government to ensure that staff working 30 hours a week on minimum wage pay no income tax are a welcome step, as they benefit workers whilst not burdening retailers. Setting targets for the minimum wage would create a dangerous precedent that leads to staff hours being cut and retailers having to delay investment elsewhere in their business.”

ACS has also reiterated its call for long term business rates reform. Mr Lowman said: “Government has taken action in recent years to reduce the burden of business rates on our members but this must be followed by wholesale reform that makes the business rates system fairer. We will be publishing our response to the government’s consultation on rates in the near future, outlining the measures that should be taken to level the playing field for local shops and other small businesses.”

Alcohol and tobacco fraud are also a key area for local shops, with recent figures released by KPMG suggesting that the illicit tobacco market alone costs the UK almost £2bn in lost revenue.

Mr Lowman continued: “There is a strong correlation between the increase in duty rates for alcohol and tobacco and the purchase of non duty paid products. Government should freeze the current duty rates and make tackling fraud a top priority of their alcohol strategy. Retailers who engage in duty fraud should lose their licence.”

The full submission is available on the ACS website here: http://www.acs.org.uk/download/summer-budget-2015/