Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed today’s speech from the Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds, which set out Labour’s commitment to breathe fresh life into Britain’s high streets and highlighted the need to level the playing field between high street and online retailers.

Usdaw has been campaigning for action to support the struggling retail sector, and today the Union relaunched a retail recovery plan to help struggling high streets build back better from the coronavirus crisis.

Usdaw’s retail recovery plan includes calls for:

  1. Extending the current business rates holiday to at least the end of the year and fundamentally reform this outdated and imbalanced commercial property tax.
  2. Levying an online sales levy set at 1%, to raise around £1.5bn that could fund a cut in business rates of around 20%.
  3. Extending the moratorium on shop evictions for rent arrears and find a wider solution around unpaid rents, with contributions from retailers, landlords and government.

Usdaw’s full retail recovery plan:

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says:
“The UK retail sector has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic on an unprecedented scale. For an industry already facing significant challenges, the long-term impact will be severe. So we welcome Labour identifying the need for fundamental and substantial reforms for the retail industry as set out by Anneliese Dodds MP today. This is in stark contrast to the short-term sticking plasters the Chancellor announced in the Budget.

“Currently online retailers pay a lower proportion of tax per sale than bricks and mortar retailers. We have consistently urged the Government to rebalance the tax base to ensure online and bricks and mortar retailers pay a similar proportion of tax.

Reducing business rates for retailers and rebalancing the tax system to ensure online retailers pay a fair share of tax would be revenue-neutral, provide a vital boost to bricks and mortar retailers and support communities in need of levelling up.

“The coronavirus pandemic has pushed many retailers and retail workers to breaking point, so government action needs to be equally significant. Usdaw is calling for an urgent retail recovery plan that provides necessary support for the retail industry. After a deeply disappointing Conservative Budget, it is clear that only Labour understands that retail desperately needs a lifeline.”

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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