Queens Speech Reaction: Energy Market Reforms Must Include Local Shops

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has reacted to the Queen’s Speech, calling on the Government to ensure that changes to the energy market include both domestic and non domestic consumers.

During the speech, the Queen stated that the Government ‘will ensure fairer markets for consumers, this will include bringing forward measures to help tackle unfair practices in the energy market to help reduce energy bills.’

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “ACS has long campaigned for a fairer energy market for small businesses. We will continue to work with Government officials and the energy regulator Ofgem to ensure that local shops and other small businesses are afforded the same protections as everyday consumers, and are not forced into expensive energy contracts with unfavourable terms.”

ACS has campaigned for the following changes to the energy market to make the system fairer for local shops:

  • A ban on rollover contracts
  • A mandatory 12-month limit on backdated bills
  • Tighter regulations governing third party intermediaries (energy brokers) to stop abuse and mis-selling
  • Local shops and other small businesses should receive the same basic protections as domestic consumers

Also in the speech, a commitment was made to raise the level of the National Living Wage ‘so that people who are on the lowest pay benefit from the same improvements in earnings as higher paid workers.’

The Conservative Manifesto reaffirmed a commitment made before the election to raise the National Living Wage to 60% of median earnings by 2020. The latest research from ACS shows that more retailers have reported that they are cutting staff hours than last quarter after the National Living Wage was raised to £7.50 per hour in April.

On business rates reform, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “There was no mention in the speech or accompanying legislation of the provisions set out in the Local Government Finance Bill. This Bill included significant changes to the business rates system such as the 100% retention of rates by councils, allowing councils to set the multiplier and have greater control over small business reliefs, and increasing rural rate relief from 50% to 100%, but has not been addressed at all in the Government’s new legislative agenda. Thousands of small shops were promised a proper review of the rates system in the Conservative manifesto, and so far we are yet to see anything on the subject. We are calling on the Government to clarify their position and set out their proposals to make the rates system fairer for everyone as soon as possible.”

On Making Tax Digital proposals, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We gave evidence to a Lords Committee earlier this year calling on the Government to delay proposals for Making Tax Digital until at least 2020. With no mention of the Making Tax Digital plans in the Queen’s Speech, we need clarification from Government on the timescales that businesses will need to follow to switch to a fully digital tax reporting system, and hope that they have listened to our concerns about the damaging effect that implementing the plans too early will have on the convenience sector.”

The measures in the Queen’s Speech will be subject to a vote in Parliament next week after debate in both the House of Lords and House of Commons.

More details of the content of the speech and the Bills to be taken forward are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/queens-speech-2017

This entry was posted by Chloe on Wed, 21/06/2017 - 14:01