Retail trade union Usdaw is calling on the chancellor to announce in Wednesday’s (8 June) economic statement an “urgent recovery plan” for the “struggling retail industry”, which is developed with trade unions and retail employers.
Some of the factors, Usdaw is urging the government to cover fundamental business rates, an immediate and comprehensive review of rental values and lease arrangements as well as reform of UK tax law to “ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax” through tackling tax avoidance and the use of offshore havens.
Other factors include funding for local authorities so they can invest in their local economy, transport networks and high streets, investment in skills for retail workers, including through union learning and high-quality apprenticeships and a new deal for retail, distribution and home delivery workers based around a real living wage and guaranteed hours.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “The government’s response to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus emergency on the retail industry, in the form of small business grants, business rates relief and VAT deferral, has helped take some pressure off.
“However, these interim measures will not sustain the industry for long. The government needs to adopt an urgent retail recovery plan and the chancellor has the opportunity to announce that in this week’s economic statement.”
He added: “What the retail sector needs now is a tripartite approach of the Government, unions and employers to develop a much needed retail recovery plan. We have long called for an industrial strategy for retail to help a sector that was already struggling before the coronavirus emergency. Now the situation is much worse.
“The government had a clear choice. Do they want to see the high street go to the wall, or do they want to help save it? Retail is an important feature of our towns and cities, it employs three million people and we need a stimulus package to save the industry.”
The news comes as, earlier this month, Usdaw announced the government to agree with employers and trade unions a recovery plan for the high street as “thousands of further job losses are announced”.
The union said the scale of job losses across the retail industry is “accelerating” as the high street continues to struggle to recover from the impact of the coronavirus emergency.